Today you are eight, an age I distinctly remember. With every year it feels like the stakes have been raised, and this year has been the most complicated one in your little life so far. You are eight, and this last year there were some growing pains. Growing up is hard, and for people as kind and tender hearted as you, growing up and learning how harsh this world can be is exceptionally painful. It is at times a shock to your system that anyone would not choose the good, the right, the kindest choice.
Every year I say how kind hearted, generous, and friendly you are. Every year it becomes more true. People think a three year old saying hi to them and complimenting their shoes is adorable. They don’t know quite what to make of an eight year old (who is tall enough to be a ten year old) doing the same. I suppose some people think you just haven’t grown out of it yet. My dear friendly girl, here is a truth I hope you always know: You never grow out of who God made you to be. I know the world doesn’t quite know what to do with it all the time. but it is a gift. You are a gift.
This year you had a really hard thing happen. It could have broken you, it could have made you feel less than. But by your sheer ability to cling to the good, and the God’s grace it did not. I think in some ways your hard thing was harder for your parents. In fact out of this hard thing you learned how to tell the truth. “Our job is to tell the whole truth all the time.” This is what you say and what you believe. You model this so fiercely you inspired one of your friends to do the same thing, to tell the truth. She did that because you showed her how. If you don’t remember anything else this year, please remember that it is you job to tell the whole truth.
Today, for the first time ever we let you skip school for your birthday. We pulled your sister out too (“I’ll allow it” you said) and we went to IHOP and made a cake and hosted a party with pizza at the park we celebrated your very first birthday at. I noticed today how good you are at being delighted in things. You LOVE the shoes your Gram picked out for you, they are THE BEST EVER. You LOVE the gifts your sister got for you. THEY ARE PERFECT. You LOVED the food you ordered and your hot chocolate and the cup the to go water came in. You loved the cake I made with you. You will always have a delightful life because you always choose to delight in life. I am learning to do this from you.
When you were turning one I stayed up until well past midnight the night before your party. I made the most beautiful flower cupcakes and stressed over the decorations. I bought way, WAY too much food and worked myself into a frenzy over the whole party. Today I let you and your sister decorate the cake and didn’t sweat it when I forgot to bring forks and the knife to cut and eat the cake with. If being your mother has taught me anything, it is to turn in my perfectionism for joy. Best lesson ever.
You decided about twenty-four hours before your party that you wanted one. Pizza and cake at the park, no goody bags, no games. just people you like on the play ground. How could I say no to that? So we did. I texted the moms and within 24 hours we had a party for you. So many people there to celebrate you. So many people willing to inconvenience themselves, change their plans, make an effort to show you how much they love you. You were afraid no one would show up, but they did and with gifts that showed they knew you. Please, PLEASE always remember just how loved you are.
You are so good. You are so loved. You are such a beautiful gift. These are not things you can grow out of. They just are.