Here’s the deal. Your first birthday has come and gone, and you’re walking now, and you survived your first bloody lip (I, however, did not fare as well and may need ten bonus sessions of therapy for each future time you’re injured), and it’s summer and we’re venturing out and about and experiencing new things and it’s all going so very quickly now. In the short time it took for me to type that sentence, you have just sprouted ten inches and are asking me to drive you to the mall to meet your boyfriend Scottie.
We have closed a chapter in our book, Bee. One year together. It feels like such a massive milestone, like you’re no longer a baby because you’re an entire year old. I don’t have to count the months on my fingers anymore, because I can just smile and say “1″ when strangers ask your age.
“One,” I’ll say. One heart and one soul and one whole year old.
I feel like we get to watch our story unfold now, Bee. Like it’s getting serious, the previews have rolled and opening credits are over – and now, the movie has started. You and your father and I are passing the popcorn back and forth, waiting for the plot to thicken and trying so hard to keep up with a fast-paced storyline. We’re all going to see beauty and witness conflict and root for underdogs for two hours straight – a lifetime – while sipping on a shared soda and losing ourselves in a story that’s bigger than us.
And it just feels so real. So inevitable, so very beyond the four walls of this home. One is a powerful number, because it means you are of substance, you are less than zero. You are a single unit of one, an individual.
And you are precisely that, Bee – an individual. You are a chameleon, a bag of tricks. We truly never, ever, ever know what we’re going to get, and your father and I often like to place bets to anticipate which personality we’ll see at any given moment. You tiptoe your way into new situations and survey your surroundings – love-casing the joint, if you will. You pensively will strangers to entertain you until they’ve earned enough love and respect to warrant a smile or two. And then, the floodgates open and you are at ease, climbing and smooching your new-found best friend as if to congratulate them on entering the inner circle.
Your inner circle, by the way, is few. I love this about you. Bee, you seem to have unlocked the life philosophy that your father and I passionately subscribe to: quality is far better than quantity. You love few, but you love them with such fierce abandon and loyalty. It’s nothing short of an inspiration to watch.
I have a hard time describing your personality at the moment. Because the truth is – you are a challenging baby. There is a lot going in your head, and you are strong and fearless – a frightening combination for us, especially when we find that you’ve learned to spider-climb to the top of our dining room chairs, then to the table above (I’m giving it three weeks before I find you hanging from the chandelier – mark my words, Bee.). I am fully convinced that there are no less than 1,432 opinions running through your brain’s channels each second of every hour , all day long, and you make these opinions known in loud, boisterous ways. You do not sit back or sit still or sit tight. You go and be and do and try, tornado-ing through life with a very clear and direct agenda.
But here’s the other thing: you are gentle and loving and kind, mirroring the emotions of those around you and displaying such empathy for the world. Last week, I cracked my tailbone falling from a chair. You saw it happen, and you saw your father rush to my side and heard the weird animal moaning sounds coming from my mouth, and it took all of three seconds before tears welled in your eyes and you cried, too, looking back and forth at me, then your father, then me again. And I knew then how sensitive of a soul you are.
Fearlessness and sensitivity are a difficult combination to work with. They’re tough cards to be dealt, but they are also amazing tools to carry through life. Your father has both, and I’m convinced that, once opened, there’s no greater gift to receive.
And here is my wish for you, Bee: That you will continue to honor the weight of life. That you will continue to discover that there is more to life than kitchen dance parties and summer strolls, and that you will remain sensitive to the good times – and the bad. Lightheartedness will come, Bee. There will be moments of pure magic and green grass and perfect light, and they will lift your spirits as you move through life. It happens naturally, like the cooling effects of a rainstorm. You’ll know it when you feel it.
But Bee, sensitivity can’t be taught. Empathy isn’t a trained behavior. It’s an inherent reaction that comes from a good and beautiful heart – the kind of heart that you have. There is passion inside of you, and although it’s guarded right now, you’ll learn to let go, little by little and open those chambers. You’ll learn to dance, wild and free. I know it.
And there will be times you’ll be hurt, and I pray that in those times, you won’t close the doors entirely. Please remember to pause – just like you do now – and love-case the world, willing it to entertain you. It will, and you’ll open the floodgates, climbing and smooching your new-found best friend as if to congratulate them on re-entering the inner circle, once again.