Friday, May 25, 2012
Dear Birthday Girl
Dear Birthday Girl,
I cannot believe you are nine-years-old today! I hope you liked your birthday treats thus far: your surprise bedroom door streamers, your surprise morning birthday balloons, and your surprise scoop of ice cream breakfast!
Merely a decade ago, you were an unattainable dream. After many tears and lost time, medical procedures and interventions, you were the little miracle that came--naked and trusting--into my arms. You proved that I really was meant to be the one thing I desperately wanted to be: a mom.
When you were one, you smiled. I mean, you SMILED. All the time. At everyone. It wasn't until your moody brother came along that I realized how much you loved to smile. We used to marvel at your ability to capture people's hearts. You'd look at someone sitting at another table at a restaurant, wait for that person to meet your gaze, and then you'd cock your head to the side, and give a smile that said, "Hi! I'm having a great day; are you?" Instead of grownups trying to get a smile out of you, you were the one doing that to grownups. Your smile is a summer breeze that sweeps and tickles the cheeks of people you love.
When you were two, you started to talk, and you've been talking nonstop ever since. But not only did you talk, you used words like 'scrumptious' and 'famished' at that age. Food wasn't just 'yummy' and you weren't just 'hungry'. Little Miss Drama Queen always convinced and persuaded like no other. Your words are disco lights that twinkled and twirled, making everything sparkly-er than their normal selves.
When you were three, you became a big sister, and my biggest helper. You were so understanding that you'd willingly go upstairs by yourself, and go down for a nap while I was busy with your baby brother. Moreover, not that you ever showed any jealousy when he arrived, but I always reminded you that no matter how much I seem to be involved with your new baby brother, you must always remember that I loved you first. To which your smile told me that you were 'okay with it'. Your wisdom beyond your years is my lovey; its warmth and softness forever comforting me.
When you were four, you sprouted a love for sounds and words. At school, you began to learn the sounds of the alphabet. You were taught to say the sound and then a word that began with that sound. Your favorite one--one that you'd say over and over during your bath time--was 'puh, puh, puh, pi-gu' ('butt' in Chinese). After which you'd burst into belly giggles: those short, staccato hiccup-y laughs that bounced off the bathroom walls and into our hearts. Your love for words and reading is the giant leap of a prima ballerina: reaching, effortless, grand.
When you were five, you began a journey of music appreciation with the violin. Beginning with a 1/8 size violin, you learned the rhythms of Mississippi Hotdog; Grasshopper, Grasshopper, I Stop and You Stop, and Wish I Had a Motorcycle. Even though all of these rhythms eventually were replaced with complicated names of notes and rests, I'll always remember them fondly, because your then tiny hands and fingers made these rhythms come alive for my ears. Your perseverance with music is the roots of an old tree, seeping deep into the earth, anchoring.
When you were six, you began to survive a full day without me. As you entered First Grade, you would leave the house and go to school for more than six hours at a time. During which time I'd fret about whether or not you would use the school restroom, whether or not if you could open your lunch container, and whether or not you'd get on the right bus to come home. After all that worrying, I'd come to the realization that I really missed you. A school day was a long time for a little girl your age, and Mama had some getting used to with the separation! Your independence is my shelter from a storm.
When you were seven, you learned how to ride a bike. You had spent an entire summer riding a two-wheeler scooter, and by the time you tried a bike, you just rode, and balanced, and went. Next thing I knew, you were riding a bike. Just like that. Now if only learning how to drive could be that easy for you. Or, rather, if teaching you how to drive a car could be that easy for me. Either way, I still have seven more years to brace myself for that. Your ability to surprise yourself and everyone around you is a lovely picnic in the park!
When you were eight, you began formally learning my native language as you attended Chinese school on Sundays. I was never the 'good' Chinese mom who made sure her kids spoke Chinese at home. But there came a time when we knew that learning another language can only be beneficial--besides the fact that both your parents speak it--so long as you were willing. Daddy's goal for you and your brother is that you learn enough Chinese to be able to order your favorite foods in a restaurant when you are older. I couldn't agree more, because you'd be missing out on so much if you couldn't order those specials on the wall! Your Chinese is a chrysalis, awaiting the transformation into a butterfly.
And now you are nine. Nine is a very special age to me, because that was when I uplifted my roots in my homeland and moved to this country. Although you are in very different circumstances than when I was nine-years-old, I see the nine-year-old me in you. Crazy as it sounds, I think she and you would be BFFs if that was ever possible! I wish that the quantum mechanics of the time-space continuum would stop playing tricks on me; what happened a decade ago flashed by in the blink of an eye. My Miracle Baby Girl is now nine-years-old.
All week long, I've been singing the song, My Girl, by The Temptations, in my head: I've got sunshine, on a cloudy day; when it's cold outside, I've got the month of May; I guess you'd say, what can make me feel this way? My girl, my girl, my girl, I'm talking about my girl. Yep! My Girl!
So, Birthday Girl, today is your day! Have a blast sharing your ice cream sandwiches with your classmates. I can already imagine your smile when your friends wish you a Happy Birthday. I know you will keep bringing sunshine to cloudy days because you haven't stopped smiling since you began. And remember, My Girl, that Mama always ever loved you first.
Happy Ninth Birthday!
With all my love,