Newsletter: Month Seventy-two

Dear Leta,

Yesterday was your sixth birthday. That’s 72 months if I had been keeping up with the monthly newsletters. Yeah, about that… your father and I severely underestimated the amount of chaos a second child would add to all of our lives. It didn’t just double it, it multiplied it by a hundred and then tripled that number. We now consider it a good day if we can remember to get you out of the door with your shoes on. They don’t always match what you’re wearing, but hey, cut us some slack. We haven’t ever forgotten to pick you up from school. Yet.

So let’s start there. School. AND SO IT BEGINS. I remember the last exam I took in the last class I had in college and the feeling afterward being unlike anything I could describe, like I’d just been let out of a prison I had been in since I was five years old. Welcome to that prison. Only it’s worse! You have to take tests and earn good grades! At least in prison you can write on the walls and hit people!

You know, when your father and I sat down and thought about having kids, I never really considered that I was going to have to live through school all over again. But here I am getting up early with you, making sure you’re there on time, worried about whether or not you’re meeting your goals, and preemptively throwing up at the thought of the physics exam you’re going to take in eleventh grade.

Maybe because you are a lot like me, you like to perform things well, and if you accidentally write an S backwards you tear up the piece of paper, pull out a fistful of hair, and declare that you’ll never be able to write another letter right ever in the rest of your life. I SO UNDERSTAND. This frustrates your father to no end, and in moments like this I have to step in because I know exactly how you are feeling. It’s called the We’re All Going To Die Homeless And Alone Spiral. I am the valedictorian of it.

One fantastic thing about kindergarten is how it has made you much more interested in physical activity, and whenever it’s my turn to pick you up from school you want us to take a certain route to the car, the one through the playground where there is a hopscotch grid on the sidewalk. In fact, yesterday you took off on one foot, and as I tried to follow right behind, you whipped around, held out your hand and said, “STOP. YOU’RE TOO OLD FOR THIS.”

I was recounting this story to your father, and he said, “Let me guess, you then jumped perfectly through that hopscotch grid to show her that you were the valedictorian of hopscotch.” Well, DUH. You can’t just call me old IN FRONT OF TWO OTHER MOTHERS and expect me to go down like that. I would have ended my routine with two back hand springs if I’d known I wouldn’t end up in a full-body cast.

You’re thriving in school, making a lot of new friends, and sometimes you can’t wait to get in the car and head off in the morning, you’re that excited. I know this will change soon, and that’s why I’m pointing it out now. Our little geek likes school! And I say that with all the love and pride a geek mother can muster. Just this week you have been begging, pleading, dropping to the floor and wrapping your arms around your father’s leg, “PLEASE! PLEASE TAKE ME TO THE LIBRARY! There are so many books there that I haven’t read!”

This year you got to meet your little sister, and on my death bed when someone asks me to talk about the moments in life that were most surprising, I will talk about how much you adore and fawn over that baby. You have to understand, we were scared. No, terrified of what your reaction to her would be. Because it’s been two years since we brought Coco home, and you still refuse to look at her.

But you immediately took to Marlo and ever since her birth have been very occupied with where she is, and is she okay, and HELP HER! SHE IS CRYING! You run to her the moment you get home from school, get on the floor beside her, and try everything you can to make her giggle. You kiss her goodbye and goodnight. You love to bring us diapers and wipes. And when one of her diapers is filled with poop, you’re always quick to point out that if she would just do it the right way, she could have a handful of M&M’s! GET ON IT, BABY.

I love that you love your sister. It is an inspiration unlike any other in life.

Leta, you’ve grown up so much this last year. Your arms are longer, your hands are bigger, there is no baby fat left in your face. You’re no longer an infant or a toddler or a preschooler. And even the label Kindergartner doesn’t quite do you justice. You’re a full on kid.

A kid.

One full of stories and ideas and imaginary hour-long soap operas between your Barbies. One who still goes OUT OF HER MIND at the thought of a sleepover with her cousins, that is just the best thing ever in the world that could happen. You are full of superlatives: the best in the world this, the most horrible thing ever that. You also have the emotional intelligence and ability to wield it like someone twice your age. Like, totally and completely, your life is ruined because we dared to move your dollhouse to the other side of the room.

And yet, your innocence is magical. You are still unweathered by all the crap that life will eventually dump on your head, and that is another thing I never factored in when deciding to have kids. That I would get to see the world through that innocence again, because I don’t really remember what it was like. It’s something your father and I have to remind each other to bask in at times when we’re frustrated and seriously, CAN YOU PLEASE JUST GET IN THE DAMN CAR. Because you’re not thinking about traffic or why congress is one huge mess or how much that airline ticket is going to set you back. You’re thinking, I cannot wait to get to school and show my kids these new shoes!

And I have to agree, your kids are going to be BLOWN AWAY. Those are the best shoes in the whole world ever.