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My dearest Kate,

You read to me.

One book, The Foot Book, but you read it.

You are bright, a bright shining thing in my life. Everyone loves you, and anyone touched by your continually irrepressible spirit never forgets you.

You embrace everything and everyone. Sometimes this backfires on you. Sometimes you get a little too close. You don’t know how to deal with conflict yet – why would you? Everyone loves you!

You love being a little girl, but you’re not girlie. You polish your nails and immediately shred them. You have two Barbies and play just as often with Michael’s cars. You like to cook. You’re good at it, too! You pay attention, my goodness, do you ever. You believe in true love, already. You like to dress up, which doesn’t stop you from playing rough. You hide from scary scenes in movies. You hate – HATE – being alone. You trail after me and Flora endlessly. This is tough for us; Flora and I are cut from the same cloth, and we need to be alone to recharge.

You don’t. You never run out of energy. I don’t know how sleep stops you. It must sneak up behind you and club you over the head.

For your birthday, you made pancakes with Daddy, and I took you to your party at Chuck E. Cheese. CEC was your third choice. Your first was our house (no way, Jose — our house is still upside down from the backup in the basement and the holidays), your second was the roller skating rink (booked), CEC was your default. It worked. About 14 of your classmates came. The moms and dads looked at me like I was nuts, but you know what: they do it all for you, the kids have fun and haul home a bunch of plastic crap to eventually throw out, and I didn’t have to clean before or after. And I had plenty of beer at home to help me recover from the noise.

We stumble, you and I. I stumble, as your parent. You are spirited, more spirited than I know what to do with sometimes – a lot of the time. I am flummoxed by you, and I have to stop letting it show. But oh my goodness, little girl, you light up my life. You are fierce and feisty and, occasionally with me, fragile. And I have to learn how to handle you with care. I think back to being pregnant with you, how you scared us, how we prayed.

I will always pray that hard for you, Kate. You are my special epiphany, no pun.

You are 6. Six is going to be good for you. As your sister comes into grace, you will come into focus. You will come into your own.

I hope you had the Best Birthday Ever (So Far)TM. I love you, baby girl.

Love,
Mama