Mar 16 2016
Happy 6 year plus one month and 11 days birthday, my beautiful girl. It’s a crazy time over here and it took me a lot longer to get this year’s letter going than usual. I started to blame the baby but it’s not really his fault, or not just his fault anyway. Our home is chaotic, busy, loud, fun and awesome. There are a lot of people, not just the 5 of us who live here but also the many others who have their own key and visit often (sidenote: we came home from the circus last weekend and both you and Jack couldn’t believe there wasn’t anyone waiting for you at our place). As I said, it’s awesome, but it doesn’t leave me with a lot of free time to write you letters to tell you that you’re amazing.
And you are amazing! I had your parent-teacher conference last week and your teacher and I ran out of things to talk about pretty quickly because you have straight 4′s (in my day we called them “A’s”) and are generally a super sweet, kind, helpful, mature kid, so we ended up discussing the terrifying election we are having (when you read this in the future, I just hope everything turned out ok).
You’re so good, it’s crazy. When we’re walking down the sidewalk and you’re running ahead with your friends, your friends’ nannies or parents get nervous that you all won’t stop before the street, I tell them not to worry, that you’ll definitely stop and also stop all the other kids too. I’m right every time. You stand up for other kids, I’ve seen you do it. You don’t let anyone get bullied when you’re around. You’re still not as aware when people aren’t being nice to you but you spot meanness to others quickly and put a stop to it.
We were watching Aladdin for the first time recently and I asked you what you would wish for if you had three wishes. You said:
1. The world would be a better place
2. No one would get lost
3. People would be loving to the people they should be loving to.
I texted your aba as soon as it happened: where did we find this hippie? I would always assume that an answer like this given by a child had been planted by the parent but you and I both know that these are not the things I would necessarily encourage you to wish for. Meanwhile, I asked Jack the same question and he only came up with one wish: a Superman doll. “But you have a Superman doll already,” I said. “Yes, but it’s downstairs,” he explained (I love his answer too but it’s…different from yours.)
And also recently, Fox News was looking for kids to participate in an election segment so I signed you up. They said they might ask you questions so to prepare I asked you what you think would make a good president. You said “Someone who stands up for freedom…” and I immediately melted because yes, that is actually what we want in a president, but then you added “and tells moms and dads not to hit or kick their kids” and, um, I told you not to say that.
Look, you’re not perfect (as I type this you’re screaming “Jack, don’t touch my masterpiece!”) but you’re insanely close. I’m probably not supposed to say things like this but it’s because of you that there is a Jude. Jack is awesome, as I’ll tell him on his 3 year, one month and 11 day birthday a week from now, but remains an, um, spirited young man. You’re the easy one, from day one, and you make the not-as-easy-ones easier.
I’m also not supposed to say/do this but: I’m laying the groundwork to encourage you to not move far away when you grow up. If there’s one thing that I’ve realized since having kids it’s that being close to a helpful family is a gigantic bonus. I know how good we have it that your baba is over every single day, that your uncle Ronnie picks you up from school a few days a week and that your saba, safta and aunt Shishi fill in as needed. Beyond that, beyond the help, I want to tell you how amazing it is to spend your life near your family. I read this thing recently, by a guy named Tim Urban, about a different way of looking at the time you spend on things in your life. He writes:
I’ve been thinking about my parents, who are in their mid-60s. During my first 18 years, I spent some time with my parents during at least 90% of my days. But since heading off to college and then later moving out of Boston, I’ve probably seen them an average of only five times a year each, for an average of maybe two days each time. 10 days a year. About 3% of the days I spent with them each year of my childhood.
Being in their mid-60s, let’s continue to be super optimistic and say I’m one of the incredibly lucky people to have both parents alive into my 60s. That would give us about 30 more years of coexistence. If the ten days a year thing holds, that’s 300 days left to hang with mom and dad. Less time than I spent with them in any one of my 18 childhood years.
When you look at that reality, you realize that despite not being at the end of your life, you may very well be nearing the end of your time with some of the most important people in your life. If I lay out the total days I’ll ever spend with each of my parents—assuming I’m as lucky as can be—this becomes starkly clear:
It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time. We’re in the tail end.
It’s a similar story with my two sisters. After living in a house with them for 10 and 13 years respectively, I now live across the country from both of them and spend maybe 15 days with each of them a year. Hopefully, that leaves us with about 15% of our total hangout time left.
The thing is, that’s not how things worked out in my life and I encourage you and your brothers to attempt the same. I spend more time with my mother today than ever before and while my brother and I had many after-school days and hung out plenty once I moved back to NYC after college, he now lives 3 blocks away (with his fiancée whom we all love and who is hopefully not reading this and thinking about moving back to Cincinnati), I see him daily and it’s beyond awesome. We see your aba’s side a lot too. Sundays during football season is spent on our couch with saba, safta, your aunt, both uncles. Your aunt Shishi moved to Brooklyn to be closer to us and drops by as often as she can. After Jude was born, your aba and I only went out twice sans-kids in the first two months and both times were with your uncle Ron. We have your cousins from Israel on our block now! We’re a close family and it’s helped by the fact that we’re geographically close. I will remind you often of how good it feels when you walk into your own home and there are family members already there. It’s everything.
I say I’m not supposed to say it because we’re supposed to encourage our kids to live their own lives, do their own thing, be free, apart from us. And I do, I will, but not forever. It’s all about family and that’s something I will tell you again and again in your life so that you know.
It’s funny that I direct this at you instead of your brothers. After all, there’s a Russian phrase about girls being forever and boys just being for a joyride (“Devochkih na fsigda, malchikih na prakat”). But your brothers come from a long line of mama’s boys on both sides and the truth is you seem so much like me that I think it will be you who will want to see the whole world and go experience everything and live far away. And I’ll encourage it, for awhile. I lived all over the place in my late teens and 20′s. But I will hope you’ll take the rest of my example and come home at the end of it so we can be together (and you can fulfill your baker/singer dreams). I love you, my girl.
Your first day of Kindergarten:
Your first lost tooth:
You are the best sister. These boys are so lucky.