Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ruby Just Because

Ruby Girl, you're such a beauty, you know it?

The days have been long around here. Heck, the years. But you have made them better. You have shown me a different way in the moments where I throw out my arms and free-fall to my basest self, the one who yells or ignores or answers too sharply. In you, I see generosity in the face of brothers who often only want to take. I see a peace-maker. I see a little girl who monkey-bars between older kinds of fun and pre-school play because that's just what she is - she's a fun girl. You're such a fun girl. I love that about you.

Mommy and Daddy talk about you a lot, did you know that? It mostly happens when you're sound asleep in bed. We keep forgetting that you're just in first grade. Sometimes we expect you to act older than you are, (maybe because you're so tall!) and we wanted to say we're sorry for that. Please stay silly, little girl. Stay emotionally fragile for as long as necessary or even forever. Keep bumping into furniture and walls because you're pirouetting across the floor. Be as confused about things as every other first-grader in the world is. It's not your job to understand or intuit our adult world yet. We should have known better.

I sat in the bleachers and watched you at gymnastics practice tonight. I love that you meet my eyes from the floor. I see you with your friends and notice the way you can be so silly but also how you stand your ground. You shot another little girl a sassy look when she tried to take your place in line. My instinct was to tell you to be nicer, but I don't know. I think you're pretty nice already. You just don't like to be pushed around. So, keep that attitude in check, Sister. But I want you to keep standing strong when people try to take what is yours. Be generous, always empathetic, always quick to find mercy and offer grace. Be gracious, but it's okay to be firm. You have time to fine-tune your responses, but don't always move just because someone says you should.

Rubes, your face tells me one thousand stories in just a day and they're usually an even mix of comedy and sky-high drama. I love the way you entertain us, and pull belly-laughs from your brothers like scarves from your sleeve. What you are is magic. You're emotional and sometimes unsure. You always run straight toward the nearest brouhaha. I think you might be up on stage when you get a little older. You might make a crowded auditorium laugh or cry, and I'll be in the front row remembering the way you wrinkled your nose at me when you could barely sit upright, the way you screamed so much louder than necessary when you were mad, the way you still giggle until you toot.

But guess what else?
Your teacher told me yesterday your brain is "wired for math". As a mama who still counts on her fingers sometimes, I can't think of many things that would have thrilled me quite like this did. Daddy and I are amazed at how your mind is growing, and how easily new concepts take root. Keep reading, Ruby Girl. Make all the boys compete with you in math. Challenge yourself. Embrace your inner nerd, Sisterfriend.

Baby, I know friends are mean sometimes. This is how it starts and maybe even how it ends, but it doesn't have to end that way for you. Remember that sting of loneliness the next time you're tempted to turn up your nose or huff away over some slight offense. Show them a different way, just like you do so often at home. Decide right now that you don't play that way and then just don't. Don't decide not to sit with certain people. Don't tell someone they can't play. When your instinct is to run off with someone new, invent a game for three, instead.

I've told you a million times, but it's true: I would pick you to play with every single day at recces. I would. But if they don't pick you, find another unpicked girl and run and dream with her until the castle walls rise up around you and the horses all have pink-streaked manes and you forget about the ones who hurt you long after the whistle blows.

You can be pretty shy, Sweet Cheeks. I want you to know that's okay. I'm sorry when I push you past what you're ready for. I don't want to do that. I want you to learn to trust yourself, even and especially when those around you have no hesitation. There is strength in quiet. I want to be better about showing you that. I don't want you believing you should pretend to feel any way other than exactly how you happen to feel.

Here are a few of my favorite Ruby Facts:

Your hands are always warm. Always.

You gave Mommy a piggy-back ride last night. Just a few steps, but LADY. Why are you so strong???

You also pulled your own front tooth last night! I'm sorry I keep asking you to smile really big at me, but I'm a little obsessed with your grin now. More than ever!

Your favorite toy "ever in the world" is your (mangy!) penguin Pillow Pet. You don't really play with it, but you sleep with it every single night and it brings you unspeakable joy. (I don't pretend to understand.)

You named your dolls Kylie after your cousin and Dotty after...I have no idea. But I love it.

We have to tell you not to blurt out the answers before Calvin when we're quizzing him in math. :)

You love horses and cold cereal. You don't like taking showers. You keep trying to act angsty about your curly hair, but we're doing everything in our power to teach you to love it.

Your prayers hold so much sensitivity, so much compassion. You pay attention, and you understand the value of caring for the people around you.

You're pretty amazing, Ruby River.
I love everything about you. I wouldn't want you any other way.