You will be 7 tomorrow. I heard your Dad's voice floating down the hall tonight after he got home and you and Ruby were already tucked into your beds. He went in there, left the light off, sat on your bed and told you the story of your birth. I couldn't help myself, I got up and went in to listen. It's not every day a man like your dad recounts the sacred moments of his wife giving birth to my first baby. You sat there wide-eyed. Don't worry, we censored it for your nearly 7-year-old mind.
You've got this intuition. You know everyone's name. You know your classmate's habits, strengths and weaknesses. You remember three years ago. You remember that one rainy day in the spring of '07 when we lived in Florida and we did such and such. Your brain is a bottomless container of what's important to you. You blow us away.
You read as good as the fifth graders. And I am saying this not because I had anything to do with it. I didn't teach you to read. The year before kindergarten I gave you a tub of peanut butter and asked you what movie you wanted to watch and told you to relax. Put your feet up. It'll be a long 12-plus years of education. No need to start now. And you didn't start. You waited until the first day of kindergarten and took off.
That's why I swell with pride. Because it's all you. Your strength is your own doing. All I do is pat you on the back and kiss you into dust.
A lot has changed since that first day of kindergarten. The pain of you having moved on from our little world has dulled. It's not on the surface like it used to be. I clutch your arm as I drive you the few blocks to school each morning, one hand on the wheel, the other pinching your bicep through your puffy sweater. You just look out the opposite window, so used to my tendency to hold on.
You're our grown girl. The one that your sisters look up to, the one all the pressure's on. Let me tell you my Grace Mary Smylie, you are the one for the task. You have everything. And the entire family looks to you. I hope you aren't opposed to that height. No matter how much I try to equalize things for you, the fact still remains: I don't know what the heck I'm doing. And you're my first. The one that's pouring the cement, putting up and taking down the caution signs. You poor baby.
Just know that I see you as my best friend. When I laugh with you, my laugh lingers a little longer than yours. My hand holds yours long after you've let go. I watch after you as you walk into school. My mind follows you as you weave through the treacherous world that is first grade.
There has never been a more stunning beauty. A sharper mind. A more compassionate soul. You're so much older than you are.
Mom and Dad.