Seven years old. How is that even possible? Everyone says that time passes more quickly as you get older, which is most definitely true. But nothing makes time speed by at such a ridiculous rate as having a child and watching her grow up. Sometimes, my heart aches for the little-bitty girl that you used to be, just as I know that, several years from now, I'll long to have the seven-year-old back.
This has been a big year for you. The tooth fairy has now visited our house six times, and you're quite the snaggle-puss. You recently discovered that the tooth fairy had left one of your teeth behind, secreted in a box I fill with mementos of your childhood, and you were quite confused until I told you that I'd explained to her that I thought it would be nice to keep one of your teeth for you. You accepted this grudgingly but wanted to know if the tooth fairy wanted her money back, seeing as how she didn't get to keep the tooth.
We got one more year of pure, unadulterated Santa frenzy, although I imagine those Christmases won't last much longer, unless you become one of those kids who just plays along with the whole Santa fantasy in order to get the best gifts. It sure has been fun while it lasted. I'll never forget the Christmas when you were four, when I'd picked up a jinglebell harness at K-Mart and we decided to put it in the front yard for you to find on Christmas morning. The look on your face was absolutely priceless--you held it out to me and your dad like it was the Holy Grail, and you spent a good hour speculating about which reindeer it must have fallen off and how sad that reindeer and Santa must have been to lose it. God, how much fun that was. This year was just as sweet--you were thrilled with the gifts that Santa left for you and declared it the bestest Christmas ever. We also got to spend Christmas Eve together as a family, just the three of us, taking in all of the amazing Christmas decorations in the French Quarter and CBD. Your personal favorite was the gingerbread house that looked like Commander's Palace.
You're thriving at your school, and I'm so thrilled to have been lucky enough for us to get a spot there. It's amazing to watch your teachers speak to you only in French and for you to understand every word they say. Or, for that matter, to watch you carry on a detailed conversation with my Belgian boss, while I stand on the sidelines and only understand bits and pieces of what the two of you are saying to each other. It was equally amazing the night you brought home a book from the library and read it to me, as it was in French. You're still struggling with reading in English, although getting better every day, but you obviously have a real hang of reading in your second language. I have begun to get increasingly nervous about the day that you're a teenager and begin screaming at me en Francais. So much so that I've gotten your quite-fluent uncle Todd to start teaching me phrases to be on the look-out for that will mean an immediate grounding if you ever say them to me.
Your French pronunciation is amazing. And sometimes annoying, in that you constantly correct everyone who tries to speak French to you, as you're learning it with a native accent as opposed to those of us with something more common, like a Southern accent. You cannot stand it when someone tries to say orange in French, as they pronounce the "r." The correct pronunciation, as you tell us over and over again, is "o-hannnge," heavy on the guttural sounding "h." It cracks me up every time.
Your school is a wonderful place, where they actually serve healthy lunches to you instead of those god-awful pizza and french fries meals (pizza and ketchup are vegetables now, you know). And your extracurricular activities consist of yoga and learning to play chess. Did I mention how grateful I am that we found that school? You ask me quite frequently if you will be there all the way through eighth grade and are very reassured when I tell you yes.
You are absolutely fascinated with dolphins, to the point that you now collect dolphin paraphernalia. So far, you have about 10 stuffed dolphins (thanks, Mardi Gras), several pieces of dolphin jewelry, several dolphin books, etc. Your dad recently rented the movie "A Dolphin Tale" for you, and you watched it over and over again. You still maintain that when you grow up, you will be a dolphin trainer. And I am secretly thrilled, as there's always been a part of me that has thought that would be an amazing job. I also hope it means that you'll grow up and not move any farther away than Florida. But who knows what you'll really decide you want to be? You are fascinated that the real dolphin from the movie, Winter, lives in Florida, and you often tell us that when you grow up, you're going to work with Winter at the "See-Through Ocean Aquarium." I don't have the heart to tell you that it's the "Clearwater Aquarium."
You are bouncing off the walls with excitement for your up and coming seventh birthday party, which, of course, will have a dolphin theme, even though we're having it in a bowling alley. You are so incredibly thrilled about the fact that we've invited both classes of your French speaking classmates, and I'm hoping that at least 7-8 of them will show up. Especially after last year, when we decided to have your birthday party on the St. Charles neutral ground during the Iris and Tucks parades, and only two friends came because it decided to rain that day in almost Biblical proportions.
Your best friend changes from week to week. After going through Tiare, Sierra, and Sophie, you recently informed me that your new best friend is Roderick. I haven't asked lately if you and Jasper are still "dating."
You still amaze me, delight me, and tire me beyond belief. Today, you gave me quite a run for my money, as you spent a good portion of the day torturing the cat, complete with trying to sneak her into the bathtub with you. (Note--I could tell that the towel was moving.)
About six months ago, you asked me if I ever wanted another child. (You've pretty much decided that you do not want another sibling, as you've determined, after many nights of having our friends and their small children over, that having a baby brother or sister would require sharing your stuff.) I told you that you were all I had ever wanted and that I'd always dreamed of having a little girl just like you. I didn't realize at the time what an impression that conversation made on you, but since then, you've brought it up many, many times. It's a good reminder that you are always listening and storing away what I say to you, and it honors me and humbles me to have someone who listens so closely to what I have to say. (It also reminds me that I oftentimes need to be more careful with what I say to you, especially when I'm having a bad day).
You are still a daddy's girl through and through. You worship the ground he walks on, especially since he started the tradition of "Icee Fridays." You and I will, I fear, always clash to some extent--it's the nature of the mother-daughter relationship. But when Daddy talks, you listen.
We started a bedtime ritual about four years ago, and although we don't do it every night anymore, I hope it still makes you know that you are a most cherished child. I ask you a series of questions, and for each one I ask, you point at your chest, usually with your thumb in your mouth. Who's my pretty girl? Who's my smart girl? Who's my sweet girl? Who's my funny girl? And lately, who's my French girl?
You are my most precious, precious child. I oftentimes wish I had another just like you, but even though I grieve that I will most likely never have another, I am so happy that I have you. You are a joy and a blessing every day of my life, even on the days when I absolutely cannot wait for you to go to sleep.
You are my pretty girl, my smart girl, my sweet girl, my funny girl. And I love you to the moon and back.