Today is your birthday, lucky number seven. Seven years on this Earth making each day a little brighter, 2,556 days that have allowed you the opportunity to share your sweet spirit with those who surround you, 61,344 hours worth of giggles and hugs. In honor of this birthday, I thought I'd share with you seven of the reasons that make you so incredibly special and uniquely you, seven traits that I am so lucky to be in your presence every single day.
Your loving heart is, for me, the most defining part of your personality. I've said it again and again in my birthday letters to you, but more than anything else your capacity to love is what I think of first when I'm asked to describe who you are. You are accepting of everyone and so incredibly compassionate toward humans and animals alike. In the past few weeks you've really started to groom those pre-readiness babysitting skills, taking care of friends and family members in the toddler set as much as a seven year is capable. Sometimes that gentle nature becomes a bit stifling for those little ones; we've had some talks recently about how even two year olds like their personal space and don't always have to be picked up and carried especially by someone who's not all that much bigger than they are. You love openly and fully without asking for anything except some reciprocal snuggling. Your heart is so full and with your sweet spirit you fill the heart of others in return.
Again in a recurring theme to who you are, your eagerness to learn continues to astound me. You had a fantastic first grade year and with every report from Miss Terrel your daddy and I swelled with pride at how well you were doing in the classroom. You love to read and are most excited to learn "times" in second grade. Your learning extended beyond the walls of the classroom though. You played soccer for the first time last fall and even though you showed more interest in what was happening on the sidelines as opposed to the field, you put your attitude of perseverance and dedication to work in an effort to do better with each practice and game. Asking questions is still one of your favorite past times. Uncomfortably for me, it seems as though in recent weeks you are seeking answers to questions of a more delicate nature. The "where do babies come from" and "how do babies get out of their mommies' tummies" are just two of the questions that have surfaced since the start of summer. Your Gramma, says that some of the most important conversations between her and I took place over the kitchen sink while cleaning up after dinner. From what I've seen so far, you seem hell bent on making my car the new conversation hot spot, dropping question bombs less than a mile or so away from home. I find this funny since your dad said that his mom, Guardian Angel Grandma, used the car as his personal torture chamber. There was no where to go, no distractions to derail her mission, and she could forge ahead with embarrassing topics without giving your dad the opportunity to escape. Luckily for him, he's largely absent when most of these little car Q&A sessions take place; I like to wonder if he'd be even more uncomfortable being the one responsible for providing the answers rather than just having to hear them. I love that you feel free enough to ask these questions even though I sometimes squirm in my efforts to answer them both honestly and age appropriately. During quiet moments together I try to cultivate the idea with you that I am always open to talk, always willing to answer your questions. I want to be able to look you in the eye, to provide you with answers that will help you make sense of the world around you. There are two things I hope you know more than anything: my love for you goes beyond what words can express and I will always be here for you when you need to talk.
It's probably a strange transition to segue between "The Talk" and this next topic, but another of the things that I love about you is your innocence. Perhaps this is because I know it's fleeting; with each passing birthday - with each passing day - I have come to accept that you lose a little bit of the naiveté of childhood. It's an important rite of passage. As much as I would love to let you live in a sheltered, insulated, protected universe created by us I know that's just not reasonable. I'd rather you lose a little bit of what makes you so sweet than have you be someone's dumping ground or the clueless girl in the corner that everyone secretly (and sometimes so secretly) laughs at. I love that you have lived seven years without knowing pain that a quick hug and a smile can't erase, and I dread the day when this is not the case. Even though life's experiences will chip away your sweet innocence leaving you transformed, I hope that no matter where you are , who you become, or what life throws your way you will be as easily entertained by those simple moments for the rest of your life as much as you are now.
I love your adventurous spirit. You are always up for the next great adventure, waking up each morning with the question, "What are we going to do today?". Trips to a museum, camping, a day at the park, bike rides, beach days, swimming at the pool, dinner with family, stopping by the library . . . it doesn't matter what it is, you are always ready for anything. You are a trooper, too, almost always sporting a good attitude and willing to withstand long waiting periods and lots of walking in the name of seeing something new. Even though you sometimes let fear stop you from achieving all that you are capable of, I know that I'll always have a partner for a day of fun in you.
Do you know that nothing fills me with happiness more than hearing you laugh? Your giggle lights up a room, and once you get going it's absolutely impossible not to laugh along with you. A family friend heard you laughing one day and said to you, "Your laugh sounds just like your mom's". I take that as a great compliment because the sound of your laughter is one of my favorites in the entire world. Most of your biggest giggling fits are either the result of something silly your best friend Addyson has done or following a comment pertaining to poop or farts. I honestly had no idea a little girl as sweet as you could find flatulence and other bathroom behaviors so hysterical, but with you that is exactly the case. Ironically, you've been known to have a bathroom behavior of your own in the midst of a laugh fit. More than once you've experience a laughing-so-hard-I-peed-my-pants moment that so many girls and women are victim of. Your cousins are primarily responsible for this, an occurrence that I can fully relate to. When you're not filling the space with one of your belly laughs, even the simplicity of your beautiful smile can light up a room. From a shy little grin to a wide smile with accompanying sparkling eyes, your happy face is my happy place.
I am a firm believer in the idea that right now I am your parent, not your friend. I hope, though, that some day down the road you will include me in your circle of friendship because it looks like an awesome community to be a part of. You are incredibly loyal to your friends and love nothing more than spending time with them. You would surround yourself with your friends at every opportunity if it was possible. The love you have for your friends is so strong that you were almost in tears as the school year came to a close, knowing that you would likely not see most of them again until school resumes in the fall. You would rather go to school year 'round if it means being able to see your friends five days a week. You are incredibly accepting, forgiving, and trustworthy - three very important traits in a good friend. You seem able to navigate between groups seamlessly and can unite otherwise unfamiliar peers with ease. Anyone you hold close in the bonds of friendship is one lucky person.
Finally, in the other classic characteristic that defines who you are, you have a deep well of love for your family, both immediate and extended. It comes as no surprise to me that your plans for adulthood include living just down the road from our current home so that you are never very far away from us. Parents, sister, grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles - we are all lucky recipients of your affection. You are sad when someone is not there to join in a family activity and show unbridled enthusiasm at being reunited with them after long absences. You have verbalized on more than one occasion that you are happiest when you are with your entire family, and I've seen you shed tears at the thought that one of us might be missing out on something special because they weren't able to be there. That we get to experience being so loved by such a amazing little girl is the greatest gift we could ever receive.
So here you are, a lucky seven years old. You want to know something though, my sweet girl? You don't need luck. You are kind, loving, generous, smart, funny, responsible, and compassionate; that will take you everywhere you want to go and will help you achieve any goal you set for yourself. With each passing day you continue to amaze me with your ability to love so fully and make my heart swell with pride at the lovely young girl who are growing up to be. You make the world a better place.
I love you, Kenna, to the moon and back times infinity. Happy birthday to you, the girl who is my heart.