It’s been an exciting few weeks in this house, particularly for The Loud One.
As most of you know, she “graduated” from Kindergarten. And although there was no official ceremony, no miniature cap and gown, no teeny tiny diploma, and no faculty member telling them “You Are Not Special,” there was a fun little gathering in the classroom with snacks as well as an interesting assignment from the teacher.
All the kids and parents were asked to write a letter to the child’s future self, to be read when she graduates from high school. God-willing. (I’m sorry, but have you SEEN “Teen Mom??” Only two of them have high school diplomas. The others have mug shots.). The letter was supposed to talk about the things she learned this year and the kind of person she is and her hopes and dreams. She really nailed it with her own letter to herself… it said something along the lines of,
“You rok. You had a grat yeer in kindrgrden. You love puppes soooo much. You can’t hav one tho.”
THAT pretty much sums it up.
As for my letter, it was fairly generic… “Wow, you’ve had such a great year! You’re awesome! I love you! I seriously hope we have a chance to read this letter because that would mean you ARE ACTUALLY GRADUATING FROM HIGH SCHOOL!”
We sealed them up and labeled them as instructed, “To be opened June 2024.”
Then I gave it more thought. And – shocker – I realized that I had a bit more to say. I won’t add the addendum to the envelope because it’s already sealed and that would be cheating. But I will post it here and hopefully she’ll read it someday when she’s not mad at me for talking too much and I’m not embarrassing her by the way I breathe. In and out, in and out. Over and over again. GAWD.
Dear Loud One,
OK. I know that you’re going to change every year. I’m not a total idiot, despite what you’ve believed for the past six years. BUT I have to imagine that some of the biggest changes are happening right now, in these early days. It has been incredible to watch you grow this past year… probably even a bit sweeter because we had some rough times back in the olden days, when you were like three-and-a-half. Ugh, you don’t remember, but you were fairly nightmarish.
Academically, you learned so many things this year…
- Basic addition and subtraction (your math knowledge just about equals mine now)
- Introductory Spanish (I mean, how many people can sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes” to their baby brother, in Espanol??)
- Most importantly, how to read (still in progress, but you’ve come a long way from here).
But it’s your emotional growth that’s so incredible. (Wow, that sounds so therapistee.) Some examples…
- You’re still not thrilled with fitted clothing, but instead of melting on the floor into a Puddle’o’Whine, you can articulate your discomfort and work it out.
- You still struggle with holding the pen the right way, but instead of throwing writing implements across the room when frustrated, you realize that it’s something to work on. Progress!
- When, for the first time, you told me that someone was mean to you, it’s so cliché, but I wanted to kick the shit out of that boy. Or at least let Happy Dude bite him. But you had a much better solution. You said, “I probably won’t invite him to my birthday party.” (Nevermind that this was in February and your birthday is in August. I respect that advanced planning.)
- And lastly, you are not afraid to show your goofy sense of humor. More and more often, I see you doing and saying things just to get the laugh. I have NO idea where you get this!
Finally, let’s talk about my hopes and dreams for you. There’s really only one.
Stay true to yourself.
This is one of those annoying clichés that grown-ups throw around that’s impossible to understand until you’re the annoying grown-up throwing it around.
Here’s what I mean: for the first few months of school, you would often tell me that you played by yourself at recess and everyday, I would worry. “Does she have any friends? Why is she playing alone? Is she too shy to talk to the other kids?”
As time went by, I realized that this was completely 100% MY problem. You were totally happy to play your own games, in your own world, a world which was probably populated by puppies and dragons and frogs and lizards and dolphins. You were not concerned with what the other kids were playing or more importantly, with what they thought about you.
That? That lack of concern? HOLD. ONTO. THAT. As hard as you can. Call it indifference, call it confidence… call it whatever the hell you want. But just hold onto it so tightly that it becomes a part of you that cannot be lost.
It’s hard. It is SO hard to not care. Last week, you asked if you could get a haircut. Like all of it. You have wanted this “boy haircut” for over a year. But when the time came to do it, you hesitated for a moment because you wondered, “What if the other kids laugh because I look like a boy?” I held my breath for a second, but then you answered your own question, “I don’t care. I’ll just think it’s funny. It WILL be funny if I look like a boy!” And you did it. And the whole freaking salon walked over to check out the almost-six-year-old badass who was cutting off all of her hair.
Oh God, if I could just bottle that … MOXIE … I would save it all up and re-distribute it back out to you as you entered the pre-teen and teenage years where peer pressure and social norms and snotty bitches and assholey jerks (sorry, couldn’t think of a better descriptor there) try to SQUASH your spirit.
I promise to always remind you that YOU are fantastic and YOU are good enough. I know there will be days where you’ll roll your eyes at me and tell your BFF, “Oh puh-lease, my mom is like SO SUPER annoying!” but if a teeny tiny part of you believes me, than I am SOOO super NOT caring if I’m annoying.
So, I sort of lied when I said that I only had one dream for you. Because really, I have many. I want your life to be full of true friendships and solid relationships. I want you to be confident and pursue your ambitions with an unwavering belief that you will succeed. And I want those ambitions to be moral and beneficial to our world, somehow. I want you to want to make the world a better place for the people you love. And maybe even for people you don’t know.
But ultimately, I think staying true to yourself will lead to all of that. Because you are fantastic And you are good enough.
So that is what I hope for you.
PS. Oh, and I hope you’re better at math than I am. Because it’s embarrassing when I have to text your Dad or uncle for help on some pretty basic stuff.
PPS. I hope you like Margaritas someday because it would be fun to drink them together. You know, when we’re friends.