Dear Cricket (Age Seven)

Dear Cricket,

The other day you asked me permission to something or another, and when I said no, you promptly hopped on a stool, put one hand on your hip and the other in the air, and declared, “I am a kid! I have rights, and I will fight for them!”

And then I died laughing and gave in to whatever it was that you had asked for, because, quite frankly, you earned it.

At seven, Cricket, I know who you are and who you are going to be in life, and I count myself lucky to be a part of your story. Your heart is big and tender and tough. You are one of the most deep-feeling people I’ve ever known, and it makes me love you to know how intense your inner world is — even in the smallest of things…like how every so often you come to me, inconsolable that you miss our dogs, Oscar and Olive, that you hope they’re happy in heaven with YiaYia. Or when a few weeks ago I found you sobbing, lying in your bed in the dark of night, praying desperately that one day God would take you first so that when it’s Birdie’s turn to go to heaven, you can be there waiting for her so that she isn’t scared. (FYI, I started sobbing, too.)

It’s that type of passion and intensity that makes you bold and thoughtful and fearless. I swear if you don’t find your way onto a stage or screen when you grow up, I would bet money (and lots of it) that you find your way onto a courtroom floor, and I already pity your opposition. You literally don’t take no for an answer; it’s like I can see the wheels turning in your mind before I even have a chance to say no, forming a rebuttal to make your case. Yes, it oftentimes drives me bananas as your mom (forthelove please just do what I say sometimes, haha!), but it will serve you well in life.

I never worry about you, dear one, because I know you are strong and capable and smart — an audacious at times! The other day I received your math and English standardized test scores, and I was shocked at both of them: In math, you ranked unusually high (go you!) and in English…well…the test came back at 1%. Yup. Honestly, I just laughed. Not only I have never met a more verbose, expressive child in my whole life (gah, sometimes maybe too expressive? ha!), but literally the night before I received your scores, you read two books at bedtime to E.V. and me, making us pretend to be your preschool students, circle time and all. When I asked you what happened during the test, you just kinda’ shrugged as if to indicate, “Meh. I just wasn’t feeling the whole standardized-testing thing that day.” Sigh. (And then, because life is ironic and funny, the very next day I got a notice that you were moved up a level in reading. So I had another good, hearty laugh to myself.)

You are the ultimate little sister, Cricket, and watching you fight to tag along, to be included and treated like an equal makes my heart swell. (And believe me. E.V. plays into her typical big sister role, constantly being simultaneously annoyed by you and protective over you.) Your friends are your world, and running around the neighborhood with our local elementary school girl gang is your favorite thing to do these days. In fact, this past spring you worked hard to overcome your fears and finally learned how to ride a bike — motivated *mostly* by the fact that all the older girls were zooming around our street and you were desperate to keep up. And now you do!

The other night we had the Sister Squad (the Engert and Manville girls) over to celebrate your birthday, which was your extroverted dream come true. You insisted the theme should be “Coraline,” even though you aren’t allowed to watch the actual movie (you think creepy things are cool right now, and I’m just letting this phase pass, haha!). Everything was going well (I made the decorations dark but not scary on purpose), until it was bedtime and your friends came running into my room, yelling that you were crying. Cricket, you were sobbing about how Coraline scared you…while at your own party that you insisted was Coraline themed! (I about died laughing on the inside.) Sweet girl, it just reminded me that although you are so desperate to grow up quickly (mostly because you think being a teenager is the best thing ever), you are still my little girl, the one who sneaks into my bed almost every night, claiming you “had a bad dream.” And I don’t complain because I know these days are quickly coming to an end and that I’ll miss them when they’re gone. I’ll miss your little warm body scrunched up next to mine, the feeling of being needed, the way you face looks early in the morning — exactly like it did when you were a baby with rosy cheeks and swollen lips.

Cricket, I couldn’t imagine loving you more. You are the exact child Daddy and I prayed for, the exact person we needed in our family. I know it every day of your life, and I can’t wait to help you become you.

Happy seventh birthday, bub. I love you. We all do.

Love,

Mommy (and Daddy and E.V. and Birdie)