Friday, April 19, 2013

Happy 7th Birthday, Elaina!

April 19th, 2013

Dear Elaina,

Today has finally arrived, your seventh birthday, a day that you have been counting down for months.  With the dawn of the first day of this month you have unofficially been celebrating, fully embracing the concept of birth month, a full thirty days of honoring you.  You’ve been unashamed in your declarations that any item purchased, any event scheduled, any moment lived within these previous eighteen days has been, in some way, a birthday present to you.  Some might consider this outlook selfish, this narrow focus on “me” a little centered.  I think it’s just so classically part of who you are.  I’ve said all along in my seven years with you that one fact about life with you is simple and true:  it’s your world, and we are just lucky enough to play the part of supporting characters in it.

It is no secret to anyone that knows you that you have always lived life large.  There is little you do that is not a grand gesture – the widest of smiles, the brightest sparkle within those beautiful baby blue eyes, dramatic flair added to the simplest daily task.  Does a gold brooch, choker with large flower medallion, shell bracelet, purple headband, and neon rainbow sneakers go with jeans and a University of  Illinois t-shirt on a school day?  One would think no, but don’t try telling you that.  It’s an insult to your fanciful sensibilities to try to convince you otherwise.  I don’t know why I assumed this personality trait would somehow taper off or at least level out as you grew older, but I think in this last year you have somehow managed to become even more exuberant than ever.  You add flair to everything you do.  You don’t just walk; you either hop, skip, or shimmy your way from point A to point B.  You don’t just sing; you add feeling and emotion with your face, body, and usually off tune voice to every song that leaves your lips.  You don’t just share a story; you weave a long, complicated tale of events with dramatic facial expressions and accompanying hand motions.  You don’t just cry; you wail with the pain of a thousand lost souls.  You don’t just express your displeasure; you loudly proclaim your complete disgust toward the smallest of offenses.  You don’t just laugh; you giggle, squeal, scream, and force laugh your way through all of life’s funniest moments.  You don’t just love; you grab someone or something you care about and nearly squeeze the air out of them until they can hardly breathe for how tightly you hang on.  You know how to work a crowd, how to own a room, how to make sure the spotlight is immediately and always on you.  You are a star, and you know it.  The world is your stage and you are not about to let anyone forget it.

I am constantly surprised and amazed at your boldness.  Sometimes this boldness is embarrassing (for me anyway, most certainly not for you), but usually it’s tears-running-down-my-face hilarious.  You recently had your first grade music concert, and while I braced myself for what would most likely be some heartstoppingly embarrassing parental moments, I sat toward the back of that high school auditorium in complete awe at how comfortable you are being 100% authentically you even in front of 800 strangers.  The Elaina that took the stage that night is the same Elaina I see in our little living room dancing like her life depended on it to an episode of Dancing With The Stars.  Papa turned to me during the concert and asked, “Do you think the teacher makes roles just for her to perform?”; I highly doubt that this is the case, and I don’t think it would matter either way.  I have no doubts that somehow, someway you will always find a way to shine among a crowd.  One of the many things I wish for you in your life is that you continue to embrace this sense of fearlessness you seem to have inherited somewhere along the line and use it for good.  

If, for some reason, the bright lights of Hollywood are not in your future, I think you’ve shown a real solid backup plan over the last year.  You’ve turned into quiet the little party planner.  For this year’s birthday party alone you declared many months ago that this year’s theme would be mermaids.  Now, one would think, that by “theme” you mean some plates and napkins and most likely a cake adorned with an Ariel candle.  Oh ho ho no, not with your little mind at work.  You described a scene with you dressed in your Little Mermaid costume, complete with red wig of course, surrounded by many nautically themed decorations on the walls, ceilings, windows, and tables.  McKenna and I would also dutifully donn mermaid attire, and your dad would attend the party as Ariel’s father, King Triton.  Your guests – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends – would also be required to wear their most fetching underwater themed attire.  You told me the other day, “I think I already know what I’m going to do for my golden birthday when I’m almost 20”, and you are not afraid to turn every life event into a reason to celebrate.  

Having a Plan B is just being smart, but even if that journey falls through there’s always the hard hitting life of a journalist which seems to be a skill you are fine tuning with amazing precision.  You are persistent to the point of madness in your endless string of questions.  During movies.  In the car.  While eating dinner.  When reading a book.  As I tuck you into bed at night.  First thing in the morning.  You are endless in your pursuit for information.  You seek facts and in-depth explanations even though, as we’ve told you countless times, those revelations will come to you on your own if you just sit back and observe for a brief moment.  But no, that’s not who you are or how you operate.  You want to know what is happening and why and what will come next and how everyone around you feels about it.  Give me the facts first, I’ll process it all later.  That’s your motto and the method for how you live.  When I’ve finally had it with your incessant inquiries and I finally declare, “That’s it.  No more!”, you look at me with sad eyes and simply respond, “But I want to learn”.  And then I realize I’m a horrible human being and that there’s no way I can argue with that kind of logic.  You know how to push my buttons, but my God you also know how to win me over.  As a side note, you’ve also mastered that tricky /r/ sound since your last birthday – a development that I’ll admit had me teetering between feelings of simultaneous victory and devastation – so should you decide to purse this avenue as a profession we can all rest easy that the person you’re interviewing will at least be able to understand what you’re asking.

I find myself saying one of two phrases in reference to you at least once a day (and, more often than not, use both phrases multiple times a day):  “She is so ridiculous” and “I don’t know where she comes up with this stuff”.  You spout out phrases that are so completely random.  For example, just the other day I asked you if you had brushed your hair yet.  Rather than answering with a simple one word affirmative or negative, you of course felt the need to elaborate by sharing, “Yes, but I’m in the middle of a serious hair crisis”.  Seriously, what seven year old comes up with an answer like that?  Or how about the day you declared you were going to rename one of your Barbies using the very unintentionally hilarious and unfortunate name of Nicki Von Bitch ("First name Nicki.  Middle name Von.  Last name Bitch," you innocently announced).  You make me laugh – laugh out loud, even – every single day.  You do or say the most random things, and I pray that you don’t grow up with a serious complex about how often I laughed at you.  I want you to know that although, yes, it did appear as though I was laughing AT you, my laughter was filled to the brim with love and heartfelt joy at how much happiness you bring into my life.  You are utterly ridiculous, yes.  Would I want it any other way?  Absolutely not.

I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone where the phrase “seven going on seventeen” is more appropriate especially when it comes to matters of the heart.  You’ve informed us that this year, in first grade, you’ve possibly met the love of your life.  Numerous witnesses have reported that you have admitted to discussion marriage with this fellow first grader, and you made sure to reserve the sacred “I love you, Valentine” card for your one and only (plus a second identical card for a backup potential husband just in case things with you and Blake fall through; that’s also quintessentially you, always keeping your options open). You love romance, and where your sister gets squirmy and grossed out by on screen kisses, your eyes are glued the screen while letting a little high pitched squeal of “Ooooh!!!” escape.  I’m frightened by this development and quietly getting quotes for prison grade locks and homeschooling materials with increasing passion.

You are most known for your flamboyance, but a lesser known fact about you is how incredibly creative you are.  You enjoy coloring, painting, and anything requiring glue of any kind.  You can devise some of the most elaborate art projects with little to no help from me or your dad.  Assembling puzzles, Lincoln Logs, and Lego sets are activities you will pull out on your own to work on for long stretches of time.  You have certainly shown that you have a creative mind, a skill set that will likely come in handy for you multiple times throughout your life.  

I think if this past year is any indication, this next 365 days of your life are going to be marked as much of the same only with even more passion, more vitality, more enthusiasm, more charisma. You never slow down.  You show tenacity and determination in everything you do.  You are competitive and fierce but also loving and compassionate.  You are rarely boring (although often bored) and highly entertaining.  Being in your presence is certainly a treat.

I am, as always, beyond proud of who you are now and who you are becoming as you continue to find your way in this crazy world.  It is an honor to be your mom, a title I wear proudly.  I will forever consider it a privilege to take a backseat in this show we call Your Life, to serve as a background prop and supporting character through all the twists and turns your path may lead.  

My wish, for as long as I get to tag along, is that you always know no matter where you go or how big you become I always was and will always be your biggest fan.  I love you fiercely, my little star.  Your light brightens my world like you’ll never know.

All my love,


Tru Stories said...

Happy Birthday to both Lana and The General!! Love you both and so happy to be a part of your life!
That whole first portion of the post could have been written for Lana, General OR Coco!! They keep our lives much more entertained!

Page Turner said...

Happy Birthday Elaina. To you too General. And a Woof woof to Prada. Lots of birthdays in your fam today. Mrs.when you write about your children it is so beautiful. Enjoy the mermaid party. Fantastic theme.

Tru Stories said...

I used a ton of exclamation points up there..
I'm so cheerful.

Munchkin said...

Page Turner - woof!

TS - cheerful is weird on you

Laina - Happy Birthday! You got me in a public pool. Please understand that is no small feat.


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