March 21, 2015

A letter to Evie on her 8th birthday

Dear Evie,
Happy birthday! You woke up in the downstairs playroom, surrounded by four of your friends. I'm amazed by your cheerful moods, since there wasn't much slumber at your party, but chocolate chip pancakes and fairy-related cartoons and matching pajamas and birthday magic make for some happy girls.

Sparkly manicures make us feel glamorous.

Your birthday didn't fall on the equinox this year, but it did fall on a weekend, which is even better. We've turned it into a 3-day celebration. Yesterday, we had your birthday party (Pizza, nail painting, cupcakes, "Earth to Echo," presents, pillow fight, and a well-intentioned attempt at making friendship bracelets).

Today, we're going to watch you play the part of Fiona in The Chicken-Hearted Fox, followed by an afternoon at one of your favorite places, The Mall of America. I splurged on the unlimited ride wristband so you can keep going down the log chute until your clothes are too soaked to bear it any longer. Then we'll buy you new clothes because we're at the mall and it's your birthday.

After cake and pizza with your grandparents and aunties, we'll open some more presents and put a sleepy birthday girl to bed (upstairs, in your loft bed, with a lot less silliness than last night).

Tomorrow, you have an appointment at St. Sabrina's in Uptown to get your ears pierced. You picked out the earrings last week: sparkly petals in your favorite color, purple.

You questioned the Chinese translation of some of the tattoo designs.

I say this every year, but the years keep getting better. Seven was a good year to be Evie, and it was a good year to be your mom.

This was the year you really got the hang of riding your bike, reading chapter books, and swimming. You adapted to 2nd grade and bought BFF necklaces for two of your friends, Karina and Kenzie. You taught your cat Rosie to come when she's called and you successfully bred baby guppies. They're still growing in a nursery tank we've called "Guppies of Tomorrow."

You got a mini iPad this year and learned the art of texting with your friends (the penguin emoji conveys a lot of meaning, apparently), Googling answers to questions, and finding age-appropriate YouTube videos. You know all the words to Katy Perry's "Roar," without any help from us.

A girl, an iPad, and a kitten.

But while you're boldly embracing tween culture (you swoon a little when we spot One Direction's perfume in the beauty aisle at Target), you're still unabashedly a child. You believe in magic and were genuinely bummed when your leprechaun trap didn't work. You're obsessed with stuffed animals with big, sparkly eyes; you call them "Cuties" and have more than a dozen, but it's never enough. You love it when we read to you; Daddy finished the Harry Potter series with you a couple weeks ago, and I've read you the first chapters of "Little House in the Big Woods."

I love that you're old enough to want to watch Ken Burns' Civil War with your dad, but you're young enough to still love My Little Pony. You're big enough to go on all the rides at the mall, but little enough for your dad to swing you over his shoulder when he's carrying you to our bed for a morning cuddle with Rosie before school. You're smart enough to be doing an independent research project on cats, but naive enough to not know (or want to know) exactly what the "bad words" are. 

You've grown a couple more inches this year and I'm beginning to see the faint outlines of your adolescence on the horizon. I'm in no hurry to get there, but I have started some honest conversations with you in the hope that we'll continue to keep the lines of communication open as your body grows and your heart fills with the emotions of the next stage of your life. 

I don't know what 8 will bring, but I'm expecting another great year. You'll have another summer of horse camp and swimming pools and at least one big Wiant family road trip. You'll start 3rd grade and learn more Chinese and play with friends and make some new ones. You'll collect more Cuties and maybe you'll learn to change gears on your bike so we can go on even longer trips together.

Let's be bike buddies forever.

Whatever lies ahead, I know it's going to be an adventure and a joy, because we're in this together, Evie. I love you so much.

Happy Birthday.


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