You look so old these days, with your long, long hair and long, lean legs.
You spent your last days as a 6-year-old in New York; actually, you spent nearly four weeks there this summer. Not only did you love it, but my parents and my sister loved it—and you. You were helpful, charming, responsible, playful, and you didn’t want to come home. You swam, climbed, had a pedicure with Aunt Jenny, went to yoga with Gramma Mia, hiked with Grampa Dick, put together puzzles with Uncle John, taught Miss June to swim, picked veggies, and went to horse camp (you and Gramma even found jodhpurs at a 2nd-hand store!). You never once caused a problem for your grandparents; not once did they notice you being stubborn or finicky or unkind. Darling girl.
You have started to recognize wit and to tell jokes. Sometimes those jokes fail, and even that’s funny: Instead of “Dad, can you make me a sandwich?” followed by “Abracadabra, you’re a sandwich,” you said, “Dad, can I have a sandwich?” followed by the punch line that no longer makes sense. Which cracked all of us up.
You’ve recently turned the corner and discovered that the street is lined with books you can read! You now spend road trips going carefully through Highlights magazine, reading all of the stories when previously you only found the hidden pictures. You finally get it, why the rest of us are so enthralled with books. They’re full of stories!
You play soccer like a girl on fire. A few of your teammates have noticeably improved their ball-handling skills and have an intuitive understanding of where they should be on the field in a given situation. What you lack in those areas you make up in sheer speed. The other day, the assistant coach said, “You know, they’re going to have to start watering the field; otherwise, you’re going to set it ablaze.”
Elena, you have been reminded by your new teacher to be kind with your words and actions. When I told her that I hoped that wouldn’t continue, she said, respectfully and calmly, “Oh, I bet it will.” Then I told her that you’d chosen the nickname “Spicy” for yourself that very afternoon. She laughed and nodded. She understands you.
Other kids’ parents say things about you like “assertive,” “go far,” and “knows what she wants.” And they’re right. You are fiery, and sometimes—especially when it comes to sibling relations—that’s challenging. But what more could I ask than a hot-pepper daughter who knows what she wants and laughs while she goes out and grabs it?