Princess Imagination on her last birthday… it feels like just yesterday.
Today Princess Imagination turns seven years old. She has been talking about and planning this day for months. I, on the other hand, don’t quite feel ready.
This post, however, is not about my ambivalence about my daughter’s fast progress through childhood. It is about the question of how to celebrate this milestone in her journey. In the context of her intense discussion of her upcoming birthday I had plenty of reminders about this opportunity, and since writing is the way I process my challenges and joys, it was obvious to me that I wanted to write something.
I took a few stabs at something that would be appropriately expressive of my huge pride at being her mother.
I tried the format of a letter telling her what I wanted her to see in herself.
I tried an explanatory list of “seven” amazing things I see in her – one for each year.
But none of these formats were quite clicking. They felt forced.
And then I re-read a poem that she had spontaneously inspired through her play a few months ago. It is just a sensory description of a common place childhood moment, but that is what makes it feel right to me in this context.
Celebrating her childhood is not about formulas, or lists, or deep, expressive analysis.
It is about the amazing joy of watching her live ordinary moments, and rediscovering simple joy in that observation.
like a little globe of sunlight
captured in a ball of childhood delight
floating for the benefit of her bright eyes.
Smooth and soft
not burning as the touch of sun drops should
from playful fingertips.
It tastes like laughter
filling up her mouth with bubbling joy,
sweet salivation wetting lips
that part in breathless expectation
Her tiny nostrils flare
as dust and cornstarch
beaten from the air by flailing arms and flying fingers
tickle her delicate nose, tempting a sneeze
to join the riotous sounds of celebration
giggles and squeals
weaving a complicated dance
between bright, one-syllable commands
But then the sharp report
and for one frozen second
air itself contracts to mourn the loss
– – –
but then the swirling, active fun refills the space