Last week you turned six. And what an event it was. Your school happened to schedule kindergarten graduation on your birthday, and so you hit two big milestones the same day. You were so excited about graduation - alternating with sadness at leaving the school and teacher that you've known for the last three years. I hope that over the course of your lifetime you have many other teachers that you love as much as you love Miss Pam. We couldn't have asked for a better person to help guide and shape you over the past 3 years. You have learned and done so much in her classroom. She even taught you to be a Steelers fan which is much appreciated by Aunt Renita and Uncle Paul.
Over the past year you have progressed from being what I like to call a "hunt and peck" reader (having to sound things out - sometimes forgetting the first word of the sentence by the time you get to the last) to being able to sight read chapter books. In fact Nonno and Nonni gave you a new chapter book at your birthday lunch (you chose lobster, of course), and you were so! Excited! Ten! Chapters! Which you had finished reading before rest time was over that afternoon. And had read again the next day. And you packed it to take down to their house this week, so I'm sure you'll get through it a few more times before the week is over. I love how much you love to read. When I was young I read at every opportunity, and I reread my favorite books over and over again. I hope that reading continues to introduce you to many friends and new worlds to explore.
In the fall you will start first grade at the public elementary school that is just a few streets away from our house. You seem quite excited at this prospect, and often ask as we're driving "have we passed my new school yet?" I love how you describe the others who will be in first grade with you - you list all of your friends from the neighborhood, and then you say, "and the friends I don't know yet." May you enter every stage of your life with such an optimistic attitude. I have no doubt, knowing the person that you are, that you will create many new friendships very quickly, while still remaining loyal to those who you already know. You have such a loving heart. So many people who meet you comment on that, and it fills my heart to watch you show them with just a few words or actions how caring you are.
While you readily give of yourself to others, this also means that you have a sensitive side, and sometimes something that might seem harmless to another causes you to become very upset. Usually all you need is a little time (and some cuddles) to right yourself. I wish I could guard you from those kinds of hurts, but the reality is that it will happen all your life, and as much as I wish to save you pain, all of these experiences will, in the end, make you stronger.
You love arts and crafts of all kinds. Clearly your friends recognize this because so many of them got you presents that will allow you to unleash that creative side. I'm glad, because that's not something that is natural for me, so while I try to provide you with lots of supplies, I'm not very good at thinking to pick something like that out to do on any given day.
You also love to be active. Another of your big accomplishments in the past year is the ability to pump your legs so that you no longer need to be pushed on the swings. I can still remember the day this fall when you ran up to me, "You were right, Mommy! You said one day I would just be able to pump and now I CAN!" You were so very proud of yourself. You love to run, ride your bike or scooter (though you think your scooter is too babyish for you now), and play football, soccer, or catch with Daddy in the backyard.
At the same time, a part of you needs quiet to recharge yourself. Saturday at your birthday luau you ran around excitedly with all of your friends. Upstairs, downstairs, outside - everything was done with high energy. However, before the evening was over - while a few guests still remained - you were found coloring by yourself on the floor of the family room. I think you just needed some time to yourself to regroup after the excitement of earlier. Mommy needs that, too, and if you recognize it already it will make your life much easier. Though let me tell you, when you have kids that quiet time to recharge becomes much harder to come by!
When you come downstairs in the morning you get sad if Ben is snuggled next to me on the couch and there is no room for you, so we wiggle around to try to accommodate everyone. At dinner you and Ben take turns setting the table, and whoever sets gets to pick where everyone sits. You typically alternate between choosing to sit next to me, or graciously saying, "Ben, I'll let you sit next to Mommy if you let me tomorrow." While sometimes it can be frustrating to have the two of you both clamoring for my attention, I know that in the blink of an eye it will be different, and I will regret not cherishing these moments more.
If 5 and three quarters is any indication, age 6 will be very dramatic. This year you had "the best birthday ever!" By contrast, though, when forced to run errands last month you told us, "this is the WORST Mother's Day in the whole world!" You tend to describe everything in extremes. I hope that the next year is full of far more "bests" than "worsts". And with time, that you will discover that sometimes those worsts are not really so bad after all.
This weekend Daddy and I are going down to North Carolina to watch your Uncle Calvin graduate from high school. When I first met him he was the age you are now. I don't feel that different or that much older than I did back then, so I better be careful. If I glance away for too long you will be the one graduating from high school.
Claire, you are lovely in so many ways. Smart, thoughtful, funny, beautiful, and a little crazy (biased? Not possible!). I try to imagine the woman you are growing in to, and though in some ways I can't wait to meet her, for now, I will enjoy you just the way you are.
Love you always,