Today, you turned 5 years old.
For most kids, birthdays are a pretty big deal. But for you…not so much. Emma spent weeks obsessing about your decorations, your cake, what gift to give you. Then, last night at dinner she asked you: “Phoebe, aren’t you SO EXCITED?”
To which you replied with a mouthful of hot dog: “For what?”
It’s not that you are anti-birthday. You are just 100% in the moment. And at that moment, you were eating a hot dog -a hot dog on a fresh potato roll with yellow mustard. What else in life could you possibly need?
Every night at dinner, we say a little prayer and name the best part of our day. Your answer is always the same: “Right now.”
When Emma turned 5, she announced that when she grew up, she was going to be an animal advocate/environmental activist. When you were asked the same question at school this year, your answer was “Ribbon Dancer.”
Emma wants to save the world; you want to be in it. I think this is why you balance each other out. You help Emma to loosen up and be silly. When Emma is upset, you sneak into her room wearing a mustache and fedora. You sing inappropriate Lady Gaga songs and tickle her feet until she smiles.
Emma stops you from getting run over in parking lots and leaping off the diving board in your swimmies. When you said you wanted Ribbon Dancing Barbie for your birthday, I honestly thought you made it up, considering you tell most people we are from Switzerland and speak fluent Mandarin at home. But Emma believed you. She searched online and with her own money, procured a Ribbon Dancing Barbie for your birthday.
When I look back at this year, and all that you have been through -breaking your leg, losing your dog, moving, starting a new school mid-year – the only word that comes to mind is resilience. You are the most resilient person I know. You respond to these potentially traumatic events with one of the following statements, said with a shrug of the shoulders, in your hybrid Boston-Bronx-Long Island accent:
“Whaddya gonna do?”
“This is kinda craaaazy”
“I just need to dump my brain for a while.”
I don’t know where you learned to dump your brain, but it sure as heck wasn’t from me. In fact, you are actually teaching me: to feel free, to feel alive, to be in the moment. We used to say, Oh that’s just Phoebe, nothing phases her, she is free as a bird.
But that’s not giving you enough credit. You choose to be free. You choose to move on. You have some intuitive sense of what you need. You seek it out and go after it.
Sometimes that means going off on your own.
Other times you need to perform, to entertain, to make us laugh.
When we do yoga together, it is not rare for you to say, “Let’s go straight to Savasana.”
One Saturday morning early in the summer, we went for a family walk. It was a rough morning for Emma; she was having a meltdown about something, a hangnail or global warming. You turned to me and said, “Let’s run ahead.” When we reached the corner you turned to me and said:
“Don’t listen to the noise, Mom. You just gotta follow your path.”
You are something else, kiddo.
Phoebe, you are my ray of sunshine. When I am with you, I feel like nothing can get me down. When I look in those big blue eyes, I melt. I can’t wait to see where your path leads.
Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl.