My beautiful, confident, happy and smiling seven year old - I must be doing something right!

Dear Avery,

Today you are seven years old and what is really unbelievable to me is that sometimes you act just like you are seventeen years and other times it's more like you are seven months.  Then again, I am not exactly sure what seven is supposed to be.  But in any case, I am glad that you both have the desire to grow up and can still act like my tiny, snuggly baby girl sometimes.

Last year when you turned six, I wrote about your determination to play with your friends, your intense joie de vivre.  That intensity remains core to who you are, it will be something that makes you stand out wherever you go in life.

This year I wanted to spend some time writing about the minutia of that intensity; how it manifests to be what I already know makes you truly amazing.  But let me preface those thoughts with this - I've been thinking a lot lately about what makes a person successful and how it isn't defined by academic success (or later in life, financial success), but rather with the pure ability to just be happy.  To be absolutely corny, Avery my sweetheart, they should put your picture next to the word successful in the dictionary.

I wanted to start by talking about your perfect cartwheel.  This might seem strange, however it's the source of the perfection that I find to be absolutely Avery.  You see, it took you a long time to perfect your cartwheel, it wasn't something that came naturally to you.  But that didn't stop you.  You practiced and practiced and practiced some more.  You weren't embarrassed or frustrated, you just kept at it until you were really good.  I can't help but admire your intensity manifesting itself as dogged determination.  Although I linked success ultimately to happiness, I do not worry about your academic/career/financial success because of this determination.

And this determination is not limited to cartwheels.  You also tried ice skating this winter; it's currently your most favorite activity.  And while the first day you kept falling down on the ice, you kept getting back up and now you can do all sorts of moves and twirls and spins.  When I watch you on the ice, I can feel your aura of happiness beaming at me through the rink window.  What a joy it is to watch you.

Let's hope that in the next year you use this intensity and determination to conquer your current dislike and disdain for mathematics.

Beyond the intensity, there is the effortless.
I don't want you to think that you start everything new from ground zero and that you have no natural talents.  Quite the opposite, but even for those things that come naturally, you still work hard to achieve.  This work ethic sure didn't come from your mama, but I am so proud of you for having it.  

Let's start with drawing and other fine arts.  You have always been a visual girl, drawn to color and beauty and art and a unique fashion-sense.  But beyond looking at the physical world, you have been known to try and recreate it on paper.  You love to draw pictures of flowers and people and animals and anything else you see that catches your fancy.  Where the talent comes in is you are different from other children, you are not formulaic in your approach to coloring and drawing, you try your best and do a darn good job of recreating the world around you.  Are you perfect yet?  No.  And are you content with this natural ability, as is?  No.  You recognize that you are not yet able to represent exactly what you envision.  And you try harder - that amazing determination - to do even more, be even better.

Beautiful inside and out.
I shouldn't write this.  I have read more articles about how it's important not to tell your daughter that she is beautiful, but rather that she is smart or kind.  But I can't help myself.  Your smile and your beauty light up a room (and your anger and sadness can bring on a metaphorical thunderstorm).

I love your love of all living creatures from worms & bugs to dogs & cats. You take care of them and they respond to your kindness.  You have the longest living hermit crab on record.  (Just don't forget that Sleepy needs food and water even if she can't ask you for it.)  And while I hope one day you will have a dog or cat or horse to call your own, I am glad in the meantime that you get to interact with so many of our neighborhood pets (Stella and Stevie, I'm talking about you!)

You are a tomboy and a girly girl.  You express great joy and happiness when you get to be outside riding a bike or playing on the playground.  You are a good friend.  You are thankful for all you have.

I expect another wonderful year of growth and greatness from you, my darling shana.

Happy 7th birthday!


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