A Letter To My Daughter On Her Fifth Birthday

Birthday Cake

My Beautiful Girl,

I don’t know many girls who celebrated their 5th birthday on top of the Eiffel Tower. Just the one. The entire neighbourhood we live in knew your birthday is coming up, as you told anyone who would listen exactly when it is and what you will be doing.

You started school this year. When you started in September, I looked at you going into the classroom and teared up, thinking you look much too small to be wearing school uniform and going to school. I still think that, even though you firmly informed me that you’ve had enough of Reception and that you are ready for Year 1. Just a few more weeks, honey, and after the summer holidays that is exactly where you’ll be.

I spent a little time just now reading through the letters I’ve written to you on each birthday since your first. Two themes come up: you are small, and you have a big personality. Both are still true for you at 5 as they were when you were one year old. Speaking of when you started school, before you started I told the mums in your brother’s class that it would take you a month before you ran the school yard. I was wrong. It took you 3 weeks. All the girls in the yard, some two years your seniors, greet you when you come in, and ask you to join their games. Your brother recently noted that you are very good at making friends.

What also became evident this year, when you encountered the school’s vast arts supply, is that you are super-creative. You come back with creations ranging from a guitar (that actually worked, if not produced music per se) to a treasure box complete with treasure that you have constructed out of cardboard. You come up with your own dance routines, and being invited to the Ballet Academy by your old-school ballet teacher is no mean feat, whether you accept or decline. I find that hard to nurture, being a thoroughly unartistic person, but I’m doing my best.

You learned to read and write this year, which is a great milestone. Your teachers and I were all very impressed with how quickly you picked it up. It took you some time to gather the courage to participate with the entire class, but you are now asking questions, explaining concepts, and performing for your friends, and that is a great asset for a girl your size. For a girl of any size, really.

So my wish for you this year is this: may you find new ways to express yourself—through your art, and in front of a crowd—but don’t forget the old ways—quietly, with your words.

Yours forever,

Mummy.