21 days ago, Daddy and I brought you home from Trey’s t-ball game and we asked you, “How does it feel to be seven? Does it feel different?”
You shook your head no. “I don’t want to be seven. I want to stay six forever!”
We asked you why and you grinned, “I don’t want to grow up.”
Oh Chloe. If I had a nickel for every time I said that as a kid…
But look at you. Here you are. Seven years old (and twenty one days).
I tell you all the time that you are the funniest, prettiest best little girl in the world and I mean it. But that’s just the surface of you, Chloe. Underneath, you are so much more than that. So much more, in fact, that I have a hard time articulating it. You’re no longer a toddler or a pre-schooler with pre-determined quirks like throwing a tantrum over a crumbled cracker or running in circles just because. You’re seven years old and your little personality changes every day, letting a new ray of light out of your eyes or a letting a bloom of an idea blossom inside your head.
Sometimes you are this and sometimes you are that, and while it may sound like I’m copping-out of writing you this post, I promise it’s not. It’s just that I so desperately want to do justice to the little girl in my house who might act like a teenager and request an iPod on Friday, but turns around and dresses in princess gowns to watch “Sofia the First” on Saturday. I want the whole world to know how special you are, how fun you are, but I don’t think I can put it into words. The only way the world is going to know how lovely and funny and wonderful you are, baby, is for you to show them.
You and I have had quite a few talks over this summer, this time between first and second grade, but the biggest one has been about using kind words, about being the type of friend and sister and daughter you would want for your self. We talk about choosing our words carefully, about other people’s feelings. I know that everyone says “kids don’t have a filter”, but I think we can all agree that stops being cute around seven or eight. You know how powerful your words are now. You know what they can do to people, what they can make happen. You know that you can make someone’s day with them or crush their spirits. I think, sometimes, it makes you feel bigger and stronger. You tell me all the time that you are the smallest in your class, that you didn’t get picked for the field day relays and that everyone is pushy and mean to you on the playground. I worry that you think your words are your weapon, that you can use those to your advantage to cut someone down or to make them leave you alone. I worry that you use them to empower yourself rather than those around you.
But you’re getting there. You’re starting to understand. When you tell me how much it hurts your feelings that Trey calls you a dummy or tells you he doesn’t like you, I remind you of your own words to him the day before: “I don’t want to play with you ever again, Trey!” or “You don’t understand anything, Trey. You’re only four, you don’t even know what you’re talking about.” I tell you that you have to treat others the way you would want to be treated. Yesterday, you looked at me and said, “Sammy, sometimes it’s hard to not say the things I’m thinking” and all I could do was laugh and tell you “Baby, sometimes it’s hard for grown-ups to not say the things they’re thinking.”
That’s what I want you to take to heart during your seventh year, Chloe. I want you to remember how powerful your words can be, but to use them for good. It’s a difficult lesson to teach you because I don’t want you to be a doormat for others either. I have a hard time with this myself. I am nice and polite to a fault, but rarely stand up for myself in the moment. I let others’ hurtful words and opinions go right over me instead of telling them that they are wrong, that they shouldn’t try to undermine my confidence. I don’t want you to be a doormat, but I do want you to be wise in your words, in your actions. I want you to treat others with kindness, with respect and with a smile. I want you to treat others like you want them to treat you and then I want to watch your confidence and friendships grow because now? Now everyone knows how lovely and funny and wonderful you are. Because you showed them.
And even though you embody so much in your little self, here’s what you are like at seven years old:
You are LOUD. You are crazy. You love to talk in funny voices and accents. You are newly obsessed with Harry Potter and, finally!, really into magic. You love dressing up for a fashion show, putting on makeup and carrying a purse around that is filled with a hundred plastic pink beads and fake money. You love to read, write and draw and love to ride your bike with me up and down the road. You are WAY into “iCarly” and it drives me bonkers that you want to watch the same episode every single time. You love glittery shoes, evidenced by the fact that you wear your red, glittery cowboy boots, ruby slippers and gold sequin shoes every time you’re here. You’ve recently gotten into wearing skirts and dresses again, which makes me swoon with happiness. You still love the Disney princesses, especially Rapunzel, but will tell me on a whim that you are TOO BIG for princesses and you need an iPad for Christmas. (Not happening, baby.) You are in a bad habit of lying, of being a snoop and nosey, but we’re working on that. You fight with your brother like your life depends on it and I’m afraid I often have to pull out the “big sister” card and remind you that you know better and to leave him alone. You are a fantastic little swimmer and, I’m telling you, when you start softball, you are going to BLOW EVERYONE’S MIND. (You’re a lefty batter, by the way.) You insist on doing everything yourself, even though you can’t reach the milk or cups or figure out how to turn the shower on. Your favorite color is purple, but sometimes pink and blue make the cut. You are frustrated very easily and are turning into a bit of a perfectionist. You are enormously above average when it comes to school, but fall short on behaving in class. You desperately want a baby sister and, trust me, I want to give her to you more than you know. You are, without a doubt, the best little girl in the world.
Doesn’t even skim the surface, does it baby?
You are too big to fit in the stroller, too big for naps and too big for me to describe.
Happy birthday, Chloe. May you always be too big to fit in a little white box.