You spent all day yesterday running up to me, leaning in until we were nose-to-nose, opening your eyes really wide and declaring, “HAPPY DAY BEFORE MY BIRTHDAY!”
But then at bedtime, you were somber again. “I don’t think ten was really a very good year,” you said, quietly. “I was in trouble a lot. I was mean a lot, especially to you. And Nightingale was mean to me. Is still mean to me.” I tried to smooth away your worry as I smoothed your hair. I talked about getting through hard stuff, new chances, forgiveness, and how your Mama always loves you, no matter what.
“But I hope 11 will be a better year,” you said, a couple of tears streaking from the corner of your eye down to your ear, as you lay in bed staring at the ceiling. “Do you think it will?” I think it will, and I told you so. I reminded you of the wonderful things from this past year. I reminded you that last year, you’d decided you didn’t want to grow up—you insisted that turning 10 was the worst thing to ever happen, and you never wanted to be big.
I reminded you that 11 is going to be the year you get your ears pierced, the year you start middle school, and the year we can share shoes.
This morning you flew downstairs impossibly early, and dove into our bed, giddy with the excitement of it all. After being congratulated on turning 11, you let loose a mighty cackle, declaring that actually, you’re 47 today. Why 47? We have no idea, and neither did you. But it got funnier and funnier, anyway. Especially when Otto finally turned over and said, “If you’re turning 47 and you just crawled into bed with us, something is very, VERY wrong here.”
You’d been offered breakfast out, but you wanted Otto’s pancakes. So that’s what we had.
Today you are 11. Or B in hexidecimal, my darling geeklette. And although it turned out a little blobby, that’s a heart up there, too, because you’re always loved, no matter how old you are or what you think it means.
You oohed and aahed over your presents, and you threw back your head and laughed to discover the little dolly your grandmother sent all tucked in a knitted purse was, in fact, personalized just for you:
It seemed like the reassurance you needed that you are still our Chickadee, and maybe 11 isn’t all that grown-up after all.
Happy birthday, darling girl. You are forever and always my Chickadee—lucky, lucky me.