Sublime Seven: Happy Birthday, Maddie!

Dear Miss Maddie-pants,

Well, darling, you did it.  You went and turned seven.  SEVEN.  Now, I think you’re just a “kid”; you’re not even a little kid anymore.  This must be very exciting for you–and it makes me feel old.  Old and somewhat accomplished, as your dad and I have at least helped (I think) get you this far, but old nonetheless.  Usually these letters are about how much we love you, how much you’ve changed our lives, how great we think you’re going to be, but after six of these, I’m beginning to feel like I’m just recycling cheesy crap.  And while you’re totally deserving of all the cheesy crap in the universe, someday you’ll actually read these, and I don’t necessarily want you thinking, “Man, Mom was kind of a cheesy, one-trick pony, no?”  Last year, I started out to give you some advice and then decided that you probably didn’t need any life-advice from me.  This year, I thought I’d focus on right where you are, right now.  So, without further ado (sort of–I’m kind of known for further ado, really), I present the seven traits you currently possess that I hope you never ever, everevereverever outgrow:

  1. Stay curious. Today, as we were walking home from school, we passed a dead baby opossum on the sidewalk.  Your first reaction was “Awww,” but your next reaction was classic you: “Take a picture of it!”  Me: “No!  Gross.”  “Yeah, take a picture of it.  I want to show Daddy!”  While I’m still not going to photograph a dead animal and show it to your dad, I hope you never stop being fascinated by the new and the unknown.  I hope you always want to ask why and to share you thoughts and ask questions.  Just, you know, wait your turn and be tactful.
  2. Revel in your strength.  Ladyfriend, I don’t know if you know this, but you are ripped for a seven year old.  Tae Kwon Do and soccer have built a house out of you, and if it would not be weird and probably sort of inappropriate, I’d totally be jealous of your abs.  And your arms.  And your eyelashes, but that has nothing to do with strength, ahem.  The best part is you know you’re strong, and you’re proud of it.  You like showing off your push-ups, new forms, planks, and flying-front snap kicks, and I hope you never stop being proud of your body and what it can do.
  3. Laugh, even when you shouldn’t.  Okay, now that you’re older, I can admit this:  All those times that you and Gabbie were making booty jokes, or talking about burps and toots, or just repeating the word “vagina” over and over and over?  I was dying inside.  It takes everything I can not to burst out laughing every, single time.  And you know why?  Because “toilet humor” is funny.  It just is.  It’s crass and classless, yes, but it’s still totally damn funny.  So, learn when and learn where, but never learn not to find humor in the things polite people shouldn’t.  There’s really no need to be so proper all the time.  (Also, yes, I will continue to tell you not to do these things.  Because I’m your mother, that’s why.  I’m the where and when part.)
  4. Read everything.  Never stop reading.  Period.  It will save your sanity when nothing else can.  It will take you out of yourself when you desperately need to be someone else for just a few minutes.  It will provide company on airplanes, and buses, and Saturday nights when all of your friends are busy.  It will inform you and challenge you, make you cry, and make you laugh.  It will broaden your vocabulary, your mind, and your soul.  It will make you better.  Trust me.
  5. Eat everything.  Dude, I was so excited when you told me you wanted to go out for sushi for our back-to-school lunch date!  So. Excited.  As I watched you dig into your salmon roll, I thought, “You know, it’s going to be rough going during the teen years, but Maddie and I are going to be good friends, once she’s about 30.  I mean, we can already talk about books and go out for sushi.  That’s halfway to being my friend right there.”  Never be afraid to try something once.  You may hate it, you may nothing it (see your mom’s reaction to cow brains), but you’ll have tried it.  And honestly, most food is delicious (see your mom’s waistline).
  6. Be brave.  I almost wrote “Be fearless” here, but then I realized that this would be ridiculous.  A little fear is a good thing–it keeps the stupid at bay.  However, refusing to do something simply because you’re afraid, not being willing to take risks because you’re unsure of the outcome, that’s also ridiculous.  This summer we watched you muster your courage and conquer the high dive, and if you can hold on to that spirit of adventure, that desire to try new things, even if they are a little scary, you’ll go far.  (You mama is still working on that one, fyi.)
  7. Be kind and considerate, always.  And you are right now, or as kind as any grade-school aged child can be expected to be.  Never forget to take a minute to briefly consider something from the other point of view.  (Unless someone is being a total jackhole, and then by all means, let them have it.  You’ll know.)  Try always to think of others as well as yourself, keeping in mind how very lucky you are.  You do this now, and I have no doubt you’ll become even better as you get older.
Are you tired of seeing this picture yet, Facebook  Too bad!  You will look at it again, and you will like it!  Because she is adorable, and I said so.

Are you tired of seeing this picture yet, Facebook?  Too bad! You will look at it again, and you will like it! Because she is adorable, and I said so.

So, now that I’ve basically given you the letter equivalent of signing your yearbook “You’re a sweet girl, Maddie!  Never change!  Have a great summer! TTYL, Mom”, I’ll simply close out by saying, once again, what an absolutely amazing person I think you are.  You deserve all the good things, and your daddy, sister, and I, we love you so, so very much.  Happy birthday, my gorgeous seven-year-old!  Stay lovely.

Love always,