Friday, April 02, 2010

To Nessa Rose On Her 5th Birthday

Five years old! I don’t know why that seems like a bigger deal than any of your other birthdays, but it does. Some days you seem like you’re trying to be fifteen, and some days you seem like you want to be two again, but most days you’re just a slightly precocious little girl who (mostly) acts her age, and that’s fine with me.

I see so much of me in you, sweet girl. Sometimes that makes us butt heads because we’re so much alike, and you know how to push my buttons (much to the amusement of your mother). Sometimes it’s just payback; I often think your Grandma Brooks is smiling. But the rest of the time it’s why we have so much fun together. You love to be silly, and I’m very good at silly. You love when I give you ridiculous answers to your questions, and you love telling me my answers are silly. You love asking questions, and I love answering them for you. You love it (most of the time) when I tickle you, and you’ve started trying to learn how to tickle by practicing on me. You love climbing on me and rolling around with me and generally being goofy.

I see your mother in you as well: I often see her attitudes, her expressions, and her gestures coming from you. I enjoy seeing what you’ve drawn from me, what you’ve drawn from her, and what seems to be uniquely your own. We get tantalizing glimpses of the person you’re going to become, and it makes me so curious to know what you’ll be like as you get older. Not that I’m in any hurry—there’s so much to enjoy along the way, and I don’t want to miss it.

We have our struggles. You get very frustrated with the fact that everyone else gets to set the rules and you only get to obey them. You have so much to say and feel and express that you sometimes have trouble doing it all on someone else’s schedule. Your independent streak hasn’t gotten any narrower. I’m sorry for the times that I’m not patient enough with you. I hope someday you’ll understand why that happens. But we have so much fun as well: playing games, exploring the world through your observations and questions, going to the library or the Y or the park, reading stories, and all the other stuff we do. I cherish the good times with you more than almost anything, and every day when I wake up I hope that we’ll find something fun to do together.

A lot of your accomplishments this year have been just getting better at things you were already doing, but there have been some new achievements as well. You can now write your name very well without help, and have started writing other words as well. Your coloring is much better, as are all the other craft things you love to do. You can use a scissors very well when you want to and aren’t in a hurry. You’ve become a good climber, although getting down is sometimes a problem. You love to dance, and do it well enough that other people notice and comment. You’re singing is getting better as well, although stage fright sometimes keeps anyone but your Mom and me from noticing that. You can get milk out of the refrigerator and pour it yourself, even if you do have to stand on the inside floor of the refrigerator to reach the milk.

That brain of yours is a marvel, sweet girl. I am still astonished at times by the connections you make and the things you figure out all on your own. You can use complex sentences and put thoughts together in a logical order when you’re trying to explain or understand something. You have gotten very good at rhyming words and often rattle off a whole string of them, some real and some you’ve just made up. You’ve started exploring letters and their sounds in a serious way. You have a good memory; you’ve memorized the basic story of whole books and all the songs you learn in school and Sunday School. It feels like you’re so close to unlocking the reading code and taking off into whole new worlds all on your own. I will be so happy for you when that happens!

Lastly, you have truly become a child of God. You know that God will listen to you, that he is there for you and loves you. You talk to him regularly. You love Bible stories, videos, and all the fun things you do at church. We’re on that road together, you and I. Your baptism brought both of us to faith, and I look forward to continuing to teach and lead you as I learn and as we go along.

I say this every year, Nessa Rose, but it’s still true: your mommy and I love you, more and more with each passing day. I thank God every day for the two of you and for your sister. The three of you are the greatest of the many blessings I’ve received, and you, sweet girl, are my greatest treasure, my greatest joy, and my grandest adventure. Thank you for being my daughter, Nessa Rose. I can just hear you saying “Daddy, I didn’t have a choice,” and that’s true, but I thank you anyway. No matter what else I have or don’t have, you make me rich beyond measure.

I love you, Nessa Rose. Happy birthday!