Oh, my sweet angel.  You turned five today!

Five seems like such a huge milestone, and I’m not handling it well at all.  You are growing up way too quickly, and I know this year will bring big changes for you.  You will go to “real” school in the fall, and you will make new friends, eat in a new lunch room, and have new teachers apart from the daycare you’ve been attending basically your entire life.  I know you aren’t the least bit nervous about it, but me – I’m terrified.

I should take some bravery hints from you.   You amaze me.

You’re reading.  And I don’t mean just regular sight words.  I mean real live books.  You love to read Cat in the Hat, and you are trying to read every store sign and text message and advertisement you see.

I know every parent believes their child is exceptional, and I’ll throw my hat in that ring.  You are absolutely brilliant.  You are creative with a huge imagination.  I can see the wheels turning in your head when you are trying to understand things.  You can connect stories and characters like someone way past your age.

Especially when it comes to the spiritual things.  I say all the time that you are highly in-tune with things of the Spirit.  You just sort of “get it.”  We have what I call “car theology” often, where you ask deep questions about the Bible and Jesus, and I do my best to answer them.  I feel like you will make an early decision regarding your faith, and I am bolstering myself for the depths to which you will throw yourself into Jesus when it comes that time.  I hope I am able to disciple you in the way that your precious heart deserves.

You love music and dance.  I don’t know that there’s a real future for you in ballet, but you genuinely enjoy moving and singing.  And you can carry a tune, which makes your Mama’s and Gigi’s hearts soar.

You love chocolate milk and ice cream, mac-n-cheese from Panera and “green stuff” (pesto hummus) from Zoe’s.  You love to help bake in the kitchen, and you still obsess over princesses and castles.  You absolutely love to be outside, and you love “adventures” when we take you to new places, festivals, and fun events.

You prefer to spend most of your time in your room, playing with your toys and watching movies.  You really enjoy a cupcake game that cousin KK gave you for Christmas, and you love puzzles, princesses, and PJ Masks.  You’re still mostly found in a princess dress, and I don’t fight that battle often.

Your brother has become your new favorite playmate.  You can spend hours playing together, and he listens to every word you say.  You sometimes take that to your advantage, because a side effect of your creativity is your manipulative tendencies.  Sometimes you can convince him to give you the toy he’s playing with, and he gives it to you, only to realize he didn’t want to do that in the first place.

He can drive you nuts though, just like any little brother will do.  You relish the times you get to go to Gigi’s house and play quietly without JP messing everything up.

One of my favorite stories is from a morning a few months ago.  I was getting ready for work, you were in your bedroom, and JP was running around the house, yelling, throwing things, and just being himself.  When he passed by the bathroom for the fifteenth time, I asked him, “What are you doing, JP?”  Without missing a beat, you leaned your head out of your bedroom door, and yelled, “BOTHERING ME!”  All JP and I could do was giggle.

You are so funny.  And you have no idea you are funny.  You are chatterbox who lets words and stories fly from your mouth without realizing it.  I try to keep a log of the funny things you say on our way to and from school, which is where you do most of your storytelling.  Your stories are dramatic and full of suspense and funny voices.  I love hearing about your day and the funny things that happen to you.

You have lots of little friends, and you were so excited to invite them all to your birthday party.  You are loved by lots of people because you have so much love to give.  You take notice when someone is left out or is new, and you are quick to make friends with them.

Likewise, you are very sensitive to your friends’ opinions of you.  You will tell me stories about how someone was mean to you, or said something unkind.  I am trying to focus on cultivating your response to those things, rather than blaming the other child for their unkindness.  For example, I helped out in kids’ worship Sunday morning, and you turned to me to tell me that another kid had called you slow.  I asked you, “Are you slow?” You took a minute, and replied, “No, I’m pretty fast.”  So I told you it doesn’t matter what the other kid said, if you believed you were fast.  Your grin was huge, and you went back to your project.

I don’t know if that’s the right way to parent, but I already see so much of me in you.  I know how your little brain thinks, and how you will spend too much time thinking about other people’s words.  I want to prevent you from listening to the negative things before you have to figure that out for yourself.  Your self-esteem is too important to risk at the hands of others.

You are too beautiful, too spirited, too bright, too joyful to be dimmed.  You were made absolutely perfectly just the way you are.  I am so proud of the little girl that you are.  I talk about you all the time, and show you off to the world.  You are my proudest accomplishment.

Happy birthday, Baby Girl.  My Peanut Butter.  My Sweet Angel.  My Best Girl.

I love you with my whole heart.