Fantastic Five: Happy Birthday, Miss Maddie

To my fantastic five-year-old:

Guess what goof-ball?  Today, and every day for the next 365, you get to use all the fingers on one hand to tell people how old you are.  Never again in your life is it going to be that easy to express your age non-verbally.  (I mean, you could just say it, but that would require you actually talking to people instead of making silly faces and trying to hide behind me, something that’s getting increasingly difficult as you’re already over half my height…)

The "Birthday Queen," trying out some of her new dress-up apparel.  This is, according to her, how queen's look.  Take note, QEII; she's coming for you.

The “Birthday Queen,” trying out some of her new dress-up apparel. This is, according to her, how queens look. Take note, QEII; she’s coming for you.

I’m not sure why, and neither is anyone else I’ve talked to, but turning five seems to be a big deal.  Maybe it’s because it’s the age at which (most) people start Kindergarten, or maybe it’s because it’s definitely the year you leave all the “baby” behind and you’re just a “kid,” but for whatever reason, five is huge.  So, for your fifth birthday letter, here are my all-time, desert-island, top-five favorite things about you:

1.  Your laugh.  Ever since you were a baby, you’ve had the most amazing, hilarious, deep-down, belly laugh.  It’s not a chuckle or a giggle.  It’s not a snort.  It’s a full-body, totally committed peal of laughter, and I can’t get enough of it.  If you ever wonder why we tickle you so much, it’s because of the laugh, and I’m going to sadly regret the day that you’re too old to be tickled so often.

2.  Your energy.  I know we often complain that you can’t sit still, but in reality, your daddy and I love your energy.  God forbid we have one of those lethargic kids who’s totally content to sit in one spot for hours.  I mean, okay, some days that would be nice, but most days, I love that you’re up for anything, that you bring such enthusiasm to almost everything we put in front of you.

3.  Your sense of fashion.  So I know, and all of Facebook knows, that I sometimes have, um, “notes” on your wardrobe choices, but here’s the inside scoop:  While I do sometimes wonder when you’re going to figure out that five different shades of pink don’t necessarily match, I’m so grateful that you haven’t, yet, become one of those girls who’s obsessed with her appearance.  There will be enough time and tears wasted over finding the perfect outfit when you’re older, I’m sure, and for now, I should really just embrace the fact that you’re comfortable enough with yourself to say, “This is what I like and what I’m comfortable in.”  Wear it, own it, love it.

4.  Your appetite.  This one probably seems weird.  Maybe it is, but…  See, as you’ve heard us say, you’re sister, she does not eat as well as you do.  Not only does she not eat very much, she isn’t very open to trying new things.  You, though–you will at least try almost everything I put in front of you.  To date, you’ve eaten mussels, snails, liver, gizzards, several different kinds of fish, and frogs’ legs.  Really, by now, you should have your own Food Network show.  (Seriously, this could actually put you through college.  Food Network, have someone call me.)  I always knew we were lucky, but having to deal with a somewhat less willing child has made it all the more obvious that your adventurous eating habits are totally worthy of praise.

5.  Your affectionate nature.  You are, without doubt, one of the loviest [Ed. Note:  What?  That’s one of the other reasons I didn’t change my name.  As a WEBSTER, I get to make up words whenever I choose.  What’s your last name done for you lately?] children I have ever met.  I mean, granted yes, you’re mine, and so I’m on the receiving end of a lot more hugs from you than I am from other children, but still.  You give out more hugs, kisses, snuggles, and “I love you”s in a day than some parents get in a year.  I love that you love unashamedly and unabashedly, and I hope you never outgrow that.  (Just, you know, keep it appropriate, as you get older.  You don’t need to go loving unabashedly on your prom date in front of us or anything.)

There are so many more things I could say, but I’ve got to save some things for next year.  As always, I want to take this day to tell you how very much, how very deeply your daddy and I, and now your sister, love you, and we’re prouder of you than we could ever possibly say.  Happy birthday, Madeline!  Enjoy the next half of your first decade.

Love always,


Examining the card her friend, Eli, made her.  He drew her all of "the Princesses"...and a tiger.  Because sadly, he is a Missouri fan.  (Love you, Joneses!)

Examining the card her friend, Eli, made her. He drew her all of “the Princesses”…and a tiger. Because sadly, he is a Missouri fan. (Love you, Joneses!)