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A Letter To Cora

Dear Cora:
I usually start these yearly letters off by saying something like, “I can’t believe it’s time again – the year flew fast!” And while this year might have been speedy, I can DEFINITELY believe it’s time for a birthday letter.

You, my dear, are straining at the leash to turn five. I have seen such growth in you – and I’m not talking physical, though if you don’t slow down you’ll be swimming nekked by July because you’ll outgrow all the swimsuits I JUST BOUGHT YOU – that I can’t help but be aware of how much you’re growing up. Any traces of babyhood have been firmly erased, and you are drawing in your new self with bold strokes, filling up the pages and eschewing any need for an eraser.

When you started pre-school in August, you could hold a pencil, but it wasn’t pretty, and numbers above ten were a mystery. Now, though, you’ll count past one hundred if I have the patience and time to let you, and you firmly sign your name to everything that gets within reach of your crayon. More than that, you’re centimeters away from reading – and I mean really reading. As it is now, you’ll read a store sign or headline on a billboard, sounding it out and putting the letters together to make sense in your head. I absolutely cannot wait to see you truly read, because I think you’ll dig into that feast and never stop eating.

For you, love, are a voracious devourer of books. On school mornings you’ll get up and have breakfast after I get back home from dropping off Maddie, then throw on some clothes before asking me to snuggle on the couch and read with you. We bring books to read at the doctor’s office, re-read favorites while we wait for a friend to come over – there’s no place that a good book wouldn’t make better. And now you have some simple readers that you’ll bring into bed with you at night, and once the parade of adults has passed through your room you’ll happily spend an hour “reading” your favorites. By yourself.

Your birthday party this year is Nutcracker themed – you’re putting on a ballet with a dozen friends. You are, quite simply, in love with dance. You will sit through a Swan Lake ballet DVD, contentedly watching all four acts without so much as a potty break. We watched Coppelia on DVD for the first time recently, and you broke into applause at the end of every solo. Even though they were on television.

And I don’t think you love ballet because of the spotlight – you truly love to dance. Put on any music and you’ll find a way to match a ballet to it, and truly, child, your musicality is astonishing. I can’t wait to see how that gift will develop over the years.

You’re just turning five, and you’ve got plenty of a five-year-old’s ego to go with it. There are some days when “Demanding” seems to be your default factory setting, and I have to grit my teeth and remind myself that you’re still learning. You’re quick to scream for some slight your sister’s inflicted upon you – real or imaginary – and when “injured” you’ll stay on the ground until someone’s been properly sympathetic over the owie.

But for all your five-ness, you’ve got a heart that’s even older. If you and your sister are jumping out of the car and I ask Maddie to bring in her backpack, you’ll silently pick up your sister’s bag and carry it in for her. When I allow you to do some sticker mosaics in your bed at night when you’re not tired, I leave the room saying, “Just a few minutes, then turn out the light and go to sleep.” Twenty minutes later, I’ll check and notice your light is out – and your sticker box neatly cleaned up and put at the top of the stairs for me to take back down. There’s an inherent thoughtfulness in you that cannot be taught, and I hope cannot be erased. “Cora” means “heart” and you’ve certainly got a big one.

I pray for you in this next year: that you will adjust well to kindergarten, for one. You are so ready for it, so outgoing, that I’m hoping you hit the ground running and never look back. It’s a tough adjustment, though, and who knows how you’ll take to it. I pray that you’ll make good friends in your class, that you will find a rhythm to your days and fall in love with learning, just as I did. I pray that before all this happens, we have a fantastic summer together, wallowing in our family time.

Because while you might be ready for kindergarten, I’m not so certain I’m ready for you to go to kindergarten. This past year, Li’l Bit, has been one of my favorites with you. Ever. Three days a week you’d go to school and I’d shop and clean and fold laundry and get the detritus of family life swept up and put away. And then those two days each week that you were home were Mommy and Cora days, and oh, how we’d squeeze them dry. I will miss our slow mornings, and snuggles, and play dates, and Exploring Days. I have had you to myself and I am loathe to share you. In short, my little love, I will miss you.

No, this is not a birthday that sneaked up on me. You’ve been courting it for months now, and if that weren’t enough, the day before your birthday you had your preschool graduation. You were solemn and wide-eyed and joyous and thoughtful, and though you didn’t complain I could see some conflict in your eyes as we left your teachers and nurturing preschool for the last time.

And then you declared yourself an official kindergartener.

Cora, love, you are off and running. I only hope I can keep up with you.

Happy birthday, my love, my heart.




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