A Letter to Our Oldest Daughter on Your 9th Birthday

Categories Amelia, Family

Amelia! Today, you are nine years old! I used to be amazed at how old you were and how big you were getting and now I marvel at your maturity and how much fun you are to hang out with.

Your favorite color is still turquoise, but you also really love pink and purple and can mix patterns like no one else. You love the Hamilton Soundtrack (who doesn’t‽) and can tolerate your sister’s obsession with the Frozen and Moana soundtracks. You’re still taking piano lessons but have also transitioned to voice lessons. It’s a natural fit; you’ve been singing for years.

You love hearing the news and what’s going on in the world. You have a lot of questions about the world and we walk a fine line of shielding you from the harsh realities of the world and giving you the answers you’re looking for. It’s not that we don’t want you to know or that we don’t think you can handle it, but you have a tendency toward worrying, so we try to limit the things you have to worry about if we can.

Just the other day there was a soft lockdown at a high school in Tucson. I mentioned it in passing and you wanted to know why and for how long and if it had been resolved. You weren’t satisfied until I gave you all the available details. Yes, you should do the drills, but try not to let the fear or anxiety control your day to day decisions.

This last year has been so fun and you just make me so proud to be your dad. You love reading. You read so much and widely. Right now you have two Calvin & Hobbes books that you carry from room to room. You’re reading the 4th Harry Potter and the young readers edition of Hidden Figures. Almost all of your Christmas gifts were books and you loved it. You go in to school early so you can read and your teacher started sending you to the 4th grade class for reading. It’s a bit more challenging, but it seems like you don’t really enjoy it much. I can imagine it would be weird to be the 3rd grader in a classroom of 4th graders and you’re only there for one subject.

When we first started listening to the Hamilton cast recording you had so many questions about his life and family that I had to reread the biography just so I could keep up. You just have this insatiable curiosity which I love but sometimes have trouble keeping up with it.

You’re brave and you run really fast. You’re polite, helpful, and generous. But you’re also ridiculously stubborn and would argue with a fence post until it gave up and said, “okay, fine.”

An interesting thing about this past year is how much you want to be big and sometimes you want to be a little kid again. You bought presents for me, your mom, and your sister at your school. You picked them out and afterward you said to me, “I love when people open presents that I got for them!”

So I thought about it for a second and said, “Okay, then that means you’re ready to be Santa.” And I told you about how Santa isn’t really a person, but something we all share to bring happiness and a little bit of magic to people we love. When you’re Santa you can’t tell anyone, but you give gifts or things to someone who needs them. You took it pretty well and you were really excited to help us be Santa for your sister, but later, on Christmas Eve, I think you still wanted to believe.

I tucked you in after you’d fallen asleep and you rolled over and still asleep said, “Did Santa come?”

I said yes, and you smiled and fell back to sleep.

Amelia, your 9th birthday comes at a weird time. There’s a lot of fear and despondency about our future and I don’t know what is going to happen. What I know is there are reasons for hope. It takes a village to raise a child and so know that you are surrounded by wonderful people who have a tremendous capacity for love and compassion and who will help you know what’s right and wrong. Your kindness and thoughtfulness will guide you, but remember to be strong. Stand up for yourself and for others, and remember that so long as you and others are willing to do what is right, there is hope.

And rebellions are built on hope.

Happy birthday, Amelia! I love you, mija.