Happy Seven!

Dear Alice,

I hate that what they say about your last child has proven to be true–all the things parents do for their first starts to dwindle as they have more children. I did all the things for Eddie as a little kid, some of the things for Charlie, and almost none for you. You have no baby book, no record of firsts (unless I posted them here by chance), and late birthday letters on a blog that may or may not be around much longer.

You are the one who will care the most. You are the one who asks the most questions about what you were like as a baby. You ask about your birth story and your first words and your first steps. You ask all the questions all the time.

And now you are seven! Seven is such a transition age to me. You are finishing up the Little Kid stage. You aren’t quite a middle grade kid, but you’re not a primary grade kid anymore.

This year you found the world of American Girl Dolls and have not looked back! For your 6th birthday we got you one of the Target knock-offs named Millie. We wanted to see if you really did want to do the whole doll thing before we dropped serious money on one. You loved having her ride behind you on your bike, have matching sunglasses, and dress her in the clothes that your great aunt made.

You also still love unicorns and rainbows and soft stuffy animals. They are everywhere coming out of every storage thing in your room. It’s insane and you know it, but care not. If it’s cute, you want it in your life.

You are growing up to be such a great person, my Alice Bean. Your teachers consistently tell us that you are a helper and a friend to everyone. You are always willing to be the friend someone needs. You are compassionate and sweet.

You want to play with everyone and get a little annoyed when Charlie chooses videogames or a neighborhood friend over you. Ok, you get downright whiny. But for all your whining, you are also endlessly patient with Charlie and his need to be in charge. The two of you are either the best of friends or the fiercest of enemies. There is almost no middle ground.

Charlie helps you to find your brave. He can talk you in to trying new things–like riding a camel–or get you to do the math homework you think is hard. He stands up for you on the bus (even when his methods are a bit suspect), and wants to help you learn to ride your bike on two wheels this summer.

Eddie is your helper. He reaches the cups from the shelf or gets you more milk because the gallon jug is too heavy. He babysits you (when Charlie isn’t around) and makes “the best grilled cheese ever!” He rolls his eyes at you a lot because he sees you as his “annoying little sister,” but much of what he finds annoying is what he was exactly like at your age too. It is an endless source of amusement for me to watch him grump at the way you sing talk everything when he too, went through that phase.

You have a glorious imagination and sense of style with the confidence to skip through this world. I am so happy that what other people wear or do doesn’t have as much of an influence on you as what YOU find cute and comfy. You are my fancy little scrub and it’s so fun to watch you develop your own opinions and preferences that are typically so different than my own at that age–and even now!

By the way, you are full of all the attitude. All of it. You can be the sweetest little girl that anyone has ever met, but with me (or your dad or even Ms. Carolyn), you can turn into an evil little devil. The word “no” turns you into a raving lunatic at times. And your “mad face” makes Grandma and Grandpa laugh because allegedly it reminds them of, well, me when I was seven.

Besides your “mad face,” you have many more legendary looks. You have more emotion in your facial expressions than anyone I know. It is hilarious, but it also means you can never truly hide how you feel. Speaking from experience, this means you will be vulnerable even when you don’t want to be throughout your life. Embrace it as much as you can, because if you are like me, it will contribute to your being a terrible liar (which you are already, by the way. Writing “Alice” on the wall and then demanding that you have NO idea who did that? Such a bad lie).

Having you as much daughter has been the most marvelous surprise of my life. I did not think having a little girl was going to be near the awesome that people told me it would be. Having you as my constant little buddy–and even tiny broke best friend who makes everything about herself–has been a joy that makes me smile every single day (it also has a tendency to make me question certain life choices everyday, but hey! It’s balanced!)

First grade has been the year you ask lots of questions about what other people think and do. You have asked me about families that don’t have both a mom and a dad. You’ve asked me if you have a unibrow and if you’ll have to wax it like I do (my answer was, do what you want! Also thick eyebrows are always something people envy because you can always shape them and whatnot, but you can’t grow more), and if you will get “pokey legs” like I do (not if you don’t shave, friend!). You have started asking about periods and babies. Just like the boys, I give you age-appropriate honest and truthful answers. We don’t make up stories about storks or call our body parts by weird names around here.

We talk about what healthy eating is like and what keeps our bodies healthy. I have never focused my weight loss journey on doing it for how I look–it’s always been through the lens of keeping cancer out of my body and staying as healthy as I can be, and you are here for it. You are so interested in what sorts of treats and snacks I chose and how much I have. You ask questions about “is cheese or an apple a healthier snack?” But we never talk about depriving ourselves from things we love–we just treat them as treats, not meals! Meals nourish, treats, well, they treat!

You have been the hardest to convince that not everyone or everything fits in a binary. The boys have always been super accepting that the world does not have to be divided into “boys things and girls things” that not everything is “good” or “bad”. They readily accept the both/and as well as the this, that, or beyond, or between ideas of where people and their identities and beliefs can fit. You have always given this wide open view of humanity the side-eye. But the thing is, you are always asking questions and thinking about it and then talking it over. And you are so SO willing to give every human the chance to be your friend.

You are a gift, Alice. You light up this world that is often so dark and scary. Your giggle is contagious and your joy is infectious. You are smart and silly and kind and loving.

AND this is the year you got over your complete fear of dogs and fell in love with Ruby. You may not love ALL dogs (I hear that, sister), but you love our Ruby and you are getting to be so good with her. I’m proud of you.

I’m proud that you are my Alice. My goofy side-kick in this life. I hope seven is your best year yet!

I love you to always and forever,

Momma

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.