Today you are six years old. Six!
You are excited to be six; I too am excited, though I am also a little sad.
You’ll understand this feeling when you grow up and realize that, unlike kids, adults are less interested in getting somewhere fast—like the next birthday—and more interested in slowing down the moments so they don’t slip by so quickly. Adults hope that by doing so they can convince themselves—and everyone else!—into thinking they have more time than the daily allotment of 24 hours. They want to fill that newfound time with more of what they hold in their hearts. For me and for your Dad, too, we’d fill that time with you and your brother. That’s why I’m a little sad: we arrived at six way too fast.
You’ll like being six. It’s a lot like five—but more turbocharged, if you will. Now, you need two hands to count your age and you’re even closer to the tween years (which I am not at all ready for, so move slowly, kid). As a six-year-old, you’ll be in first grade and have homework (you might not like this but it’s good for you). You will join Girl Scouts, you’ll learn harder music for the piano, and you will ride your bike farther than ever before.
My birthday wish for you this year—and every year, I imagine—is for you to be kind and for kindness to find you, for you to be curious and for that curiosity to awaken your mind and heart, for you to be brave and for that bravery to make life rewarding, and for you to love and be loved.
Don’t let anyone make you think you can’t do things that are hard or different. Don’t stop writing stories, drawing pictures, telling funny stories, making up songs, and being you. (Please stop drawing on your comforter, though; that ink really isn’t going to come out.) Don’t ever stop climbing into my bed early in the morning to snuggle; it’s the best part of my day.
Laugh. A lot. And listen. Listen to what people say and what remains silent.
Speak up. For yourself, for friends, for people you don’t know. Some of my favorite stories about you are the ones in which a friend was sad and you comforted her, or a friend was hurt by another child and you stood up against that hurt. Keep doing that; it will make you a better person and your life will be more fulfilling.
Find joy in your body and its strengths. Run, jump, climb, skip, ski, and skate. Don’t stop moving and figuring out who are you—and who you can be.
Trust in me, your Dad, your grandmothers, your aunts and uncles, and cousins to be there for you. Your brother, too—he loves you way more than he lets on. Know that our circle of family and friends sees in you a vivaciousness and joy that is special, and that we will do whatever we can to support you.
I often describe you as a “firecracker”—full of light, a bit unexpected, and capable of producing awe. You have all of those qualities, though unlike a firecracker your impact is longer lasting. Remember that you can and do impact others. Remember that there are consequences for your actions and words, so you should make choices that represent you well and are true to who you are.
Have fun being six, G! Be a kid—play, make friends, and learn.
Most of all, know that I love you. Very, very much.