Yesterday you turned 4 years, 4 months and one day old. I sat with you on the beach of 7 Miles, Grand Cayman, as you ran with feverish excitement back and forth from the shore with shells, chipped pieces of rock and coral for what you sweetly called your ‘elections’. It took me about twenty minutes to realize that elections were in fact collections and when I finally cracked that code, you looked at me, with an exasperated smile saying, ‘yes, mumma, I have forty tree elections at home, amember?’
To say you have grown quickly would be a grave understatement as it feels like just yesterday that I met you, with your black shock of hair and your grey blue eyes. Your piercing screams that kept us both up that first night to walk the dark corridors of Mount Sinai, alone. We made a bond that night, you and me, in the haze of unfamiliarity, lack of sleep, veins pumping with adrenaline of the unknown, we made a pact that I would be your mother, you my daughter, us a family, a connection that whether strained or difficult, could never really break.
That was our first secret.
In the last year you have grown to over three feet. You have a desperate love for pink and pizza and though you occasionally get into moods, they move off quite quickly and you’re back to running, jumping, forever moving. When you first started eating solids I made you the most beautiful foods, in sweet bento boxes filled with all of the groups, chickpeas and avocado, chicken and cheese, hard boiled eggs, pressed into the shapes of cars, and ducks, from a press I brought back from Japan. You were my sartorial dream, wearing everything I asked, from harem pants to rock tees, from ripped jeans to puffy sleeves. But just as soon as you stopped taking my fashion cues you also stopped eating all of the foods. With every request to bend your will to mine, you’ve twisted. At first this gave me much frustration, tired from the constant fight, where was my perfect girl?
I’ve quickly come to realize that you are a girl all of your own. Strong in your convictions and perfect in your own way. Though I won’t stop trying to get you to eat more than just pasta, pizza and popsicles, I will give you more room to dress as you please. You’re not killing anyone or anything, but my patience with your morning dress up battles wanes every now and then, so yes, you can wear that tutu over those pants, again.
You love love. You’ve had a boyfriend since you could say the words and his name is JJ.
Ever since you understood what marriage was you have been laser-focused on marrying him, but, as you say, only if he starts eating his vegetables. I’m sorry that I’m no longer married to your father. You ask me questions about that from time to time and it breaks my heart all over again. Thankfully, in some stroke of luck or magic you seem to be quite happy with your two homes and all of the love you get from every which way. You’re a star, and not in the sense of fame, but in the way that you are a shining powerful light that gets brighter the closer you get to it.
You like rules, if only to enlist others in them. I can see the beginnings of a leader every time you march around with your friends. You love to sing, you hum all the time, even in your sleep, but not on command and often when you’re feeling ignored. Though there have been many attempts to steer you towards Raffi, your favourite singer remains The Weeknd, of which you still call Lo Lo in reference to a lyric that I would have missed if you hadn’t pointed it out (thank goodness there’s still such a thing as a ‘clean’ version!)
I’m writing you this letter, and I want to continue to do so, because nothing has gone faster in my life than the four years that you have been in them. University dragged on like molasses, high school too, but the moment you came into the world the days and nights have seemed to slip through my fingers and I want to try my best to take a few moments to take stock of the moments before they leave me. So I will write you these letters every now and again to remember that you’ve recently created your own language in which you call people “Squables or Nushkas or Pushkas”, that you hate chocolate but love chocolate chip cookies, that you love to build sandcastles and that you’ve almost learned to swim and that after just enough playing in the sun you’ll look up to me and say, in your perfect little voice,:
“Mumma, I think it’s time we go upstairs and have a little rest.”