I've often wondered what things you'll remember from your wee childhood. You won't remember the first smile you cracked when you were 5 weeks old, the way you snorted while nursing, your very first strawberry or your first pair of shoes. You probably won't remember Japan - at least as your own memory - or the wonderful people who knew you from the day you were born. I don't know if you'll remember me reading chapters from "The Little Prince" to you each night before bed or singing "Baby Beluga" while you splashed with your chubby legs at bath time. But I have a feeling that some of your earliest memories will be from this crazy, adventuresome time. So let me refresh you on your fourth year.
This was a year of distinguishing fantasy from reality . . . of "Ladycorns" and Nightmares, monsters and imaginary friends. You tell us there is a white squirrel named "Squirrel Bob" who lives on the ceiling fan in your bedroom, and each night you have to kick him out of your room so he won't make noise and keep you awake. While certain stuffed animals frighten you at night (namely pigs, cats, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar), you still sleep with a menagerie of unicorns, rabbits and dinosaurs on your bed. You are adept at prolonging bed time each night, and a part of me believes it is because night time is the only time you actually sit still long enough to let your imagination really run wild! Because of this fixation on monsters, your favorite bedtime stories are those by Mercer Mayer - "There's a Nightmare in My Closet," "There's an Alligator Under My Bed," "There's Something in My Attic," and "There are Monsters Everywhere."
You have a love for all things shiny and fragile. While you are unusually gentle for a four-year-old, you do have your clumsy moments. One of my favorites happened recently, when I found you wandering the house when you should have been taking a nap. You were looking for me, because you had disassembled my marble egg-shaped kaleidoscope given to me by an old boyfriend. I can only imagine you holding that tiny treasure up to the the light and turning it while gazing at the crystals and mirrors within, and wanting to know exactly what was inside that was making those intricate patterns. So you broke it open, stuck your finger in the lens hole, and found yourself with a marble egg stuck on your index finger. I would have scolded you if I hadn't been laughing so hard.
You also have a love for music and theater. Are we at all surprised? We can find you singing most times of the day - sometimes actual songs, and sometimes just a melodious stream of consciousness or blow-by-blow of whatever game you are playing or world you are building. I call them "Hannah's Rock Operas," and they are a thing to behold. We often ask you to perform for our guests, and you oblige us with an original, never-heard-before medley. We are of course proud of our little performer, but there is one thing I would impress upon you, my love. Please never believe that life is a performance. By all means, play pretend, try on on different hats, and sing and dance to your heart's content, but I implore you to never feel that acting in a way that is not you will make you more friends, or make people love you. Your thoughts and feelings are the most beautiful, genuine expression of yourself.
This is a magical time in your life, little one. You inhabit a world of romance, butterflies, fairies, acorns, sandcastles, bubble gum, marbles and the color purple. If I were to choose your very first memory for you, it would be the magic. The adventure. The exuberant love for everything moving, breathing, shining, singing. You, my daughter, are a sparkling light of possibility. Every morning when I hear you open your bedroom door and stomp down the stairs, I wonder how you will have changed. Before you come into our room, I close my eyes and remember the girl you were the day before - the length of your hair, the size of your feet, the funny way you pronounced certain words - and then I send light and love to the girl you were and open my eyes to the beautiful girl you are now. Your pajamas are a little shorter, your toddler tummy a little smaller, and you have inevitably learned 20 new things overnight, including the proper way to say "burp" and "unicorn," much to my chagrin. You are growing into a stunning human being, Hannah. I couldn't be happier that your are ours.
Music Credits: "Love, Love, Love" by Avalanche City