Letter to O (Now That She’s 4)

My dear O,

You’ve just turned 4. Yesterday, actually. You had a joint birthday party with 3 other friends a couple of days ago, and although you never asked for a birthday present (even after I enquired about it a few times) you got many of them. So many we could fill a chest with them, but so far you’ve only opened one or two. One of them was a “Make Your Own Tiara Kit”, and during breakfast you asked me to help you make a few so you could give them to your nursery friends. That’s what I’ve come to realise about you, as I watch you grow into your own person: you’re generous, and kind, and more patient than I give you credit for. I myself wouldn’t be able to willingly ignore my presents, let alone share or give them away to my friends. But you do.

And you’re still not particularly attached to “your things,” which is almost odd in this age of materialistic childhoods. You rarely ask me to buy things for you, and whenever I say no, you’re mostly okay with it. Even when sweets are concerned. Remember how many you got for Halloween, and Easter, and for your birthday? A whole piñata full of them. I took most of them away from you, and you didn’t even ask for them back the following days. In fact, I’m totally sorry to say that Daddy and I ate them all afterwards during the weeks (okay, days) that followed each event, but hey, we sorely regret doing that. I’m still paying the price in dance classes and dentist appointments, so be happy you’re not in my position.

You see, there will be many things in life you’ll want, but they’re not entirely good for you. And there will be times when things you like will be taken away from you, and you won’t be okay with it because it won’t be fair (not the sweets, though. They’re bad for you, you will understand one day). But I’m sure now that you will be able to tell the difference, and challenge unfairness when it comes to it. You do that now. Last week I saw you worried about a little boy getting beat up at the park, and you went over to the bigger boy and told him to stop. I’ve seen that happen many times, and sometimes there was nothing you could do because you were too small or too far away, so you just asked me why someone was being “naughty” to someone else. I don’t have the explanation all the time, and sometimes, from the top of my adult pedestal, there’s nothing I can do either. But I’m happy that you feel it’s your duty, OUR duty, to help someone in need.

You still also like to tease your friends endlessly, a personality trait you might have got from your Daddy (he’s got a very peculiar sense of humour). But sometimes things get out of control and you make them cry. I know you don’t mean harm, but there are times when people don’t know that, so I’m hoping your awareness of people’s limits will grow with you. It’s important to understand that, because you’ll soon find out another important lesson: someone, somewhere, will always take offence. The reasons are as diverse as there are jokes in the world, but I’m absolutely sure you will learn them, one way or another. And when you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask why, like you always do. It’s important to be silly and have fun, but it’s also important to be respectful.

But don’t ever let that stop you from being yourself. There will be many, many times in you life where people will try and prevent you from doing the things you want to do while also being exactly who you are. You should always strive to stand up for yourself, as much as you like to do for other people. I know you’re absolutely capable of it, even when they’re bigger and louder than you. Like yesterday, when three little boys screamed at you to get out and not touch their toys. You came to me in tears, but I told you to go back and tell them not to be rude – after all, you asked nicely. You went back, and they still screamed, and you stood there, firmly, until their mums took the toys away.

That’s one of the things I’m proud of you most: you’re naturally fearless, even when sometimes you forget that your are and I have to remind you. You’re not afraid of the new, the different (a quality we share) and you’re definitely not afraid to be put on the spot, to have all eyes on you (something we definitely don’t share). I’m terribly self-conscious, scared to death of speaking in public and approaching new people, but I’m so utterly relieved and grateful you’re not. Because there will be also lots of moments in your life where you will need to be fearless, specially when I’m not there with you. Don’t worry, though. Until then, I will be there, every day, reminding you of your strength. The same way you do to me, unknowingly. By being yourself, your little generous, kind, funny, fearless self, you remind me everyday that I should also strive to be all those things. That’s how, together, we’ll hopefully make this world a better place.

I love you, forever.

Mum.

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