Maya (4 years old)

Dear Maya,

Today you turn four years old. You had been asking me if you were going to be four the next morning you woke up. So the first thing out of your mouth as I walked into your room this morning was a jarring “AM I FOUR YET?”  I whispered yes, and before I could even reach your bed you screamed, “YAY! I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE FOUR!” Dude, look at you tearing through your bucket list.


You are much more into dressing up now. You don’t want to wear anything unless it’s a dress. Every morning you will refuse to change if I take out a pair of pants. You will moan and tear up about the fact that I don’t let you wear your summer dress because it’s not summer anymore. And you don’t care. You will request to have that strapless floral dress paired with your pink flip flops. But it’s cold outside, Maya! Then you beg, “I will put on my jacket. The one for snowing, maybe? Please! Pretty Please!”

The moment you see some new clothes we bought you, you will strip off what you are wearing at the time and jump right into them and start posing in front of the mirror. I don’t have any idea where you learned how to do this. Maybe because you are pretty well trained with the plastic high-heels and pink lacey pajamas that your aunt Karin has been lavishing you with, and you are very capable to show off the beauty of it. But what I can only imagine is that the 50-year-old of you won’t walk to the mailbox without wearing five-inch heels and at least two clashing animals prints in blinding colors.


You gave up baby swing at the park long time ago, and you’ve started to go on a regular swing. You’d watched your brother do it and demanded to have a go. This didn’t surprise me given your personality, but I thought that once you got really high and experienced the weightlessness of it you’d be all STOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP!

Now I will note right here that I don’t think it will ever happen in your life.

The first time I pushed you on a swing, I took it very cautiously. But then you saw Ethan flying next to you, and you started to scream, “HIGHER!” So I pushed harder. As you started to feel that you were flying in the air, up to the top of the tree you just giggled and squealed. I got a little dizzy just watching you.

Ethan is flying, you want to fly with him. He is going through a ring of fire, you are ready to join him. You go along for all his rides. That’s how I would explain your personality to people. You are up for anything, except you hope those rides are bumpy, turn upside down, shoot across the valley, and are being chased by cannibals.

Your personality is, “Who’s up for committing a felony?”

Yet your personality is also running around the house with a doll in your hand, stopping in front of me and shout-whispering, “Hold Hello Kitty. If you drop her, I won’t talk to you.”

You are the child people envision when they think about what it might be like to have a family. You are the kid sitting on my shoulders, your head thrown back in laughter, an expression of eternal joy. You cuddle with your whole body, your arms and legs wrapped around my torso, your head burrowed deep under my arm, an unspoken love filtered down into a fleeting embrace. You can clap and squeal when confronted with good news. You make funny faces, you attempt to make crude noises, you run and hug every human being you see whether or not they want to be hugged. You tell everyone to be quiet so that you can tell a funny joke. It’s funny, yes, but the best part is that no one finds it funnier than you do.

Some people are puzzled about the size of your eyes when compared with your brother’s. They go, “Such a handsome boy, Ethan! Look at your big eyes!” Then go, “Oh Maya, so cute! But where are yours?!” And they are entitled to be confused because I can’t explain it neither. They can have their outrage if they are only into sizes. But they don’t live with you and do not understand how mesmerizing your eyes can be. You smile with your eyes. Your eyes are as much a part of who you are as how you giggle with your body thrown way back into joy, and your eyes giggle along with your whole body. And it is fundamental to your spirit – your cheerful, hilarious and carefree spirit that brightens everyone around you.


Maya, you are one of those kids that would even make the most cynical, most snooty “it’s no way I will have kids” kind of person stop and go, “Oh my god I wish I had a daughter like yours.” When they are around you and witness the delight you get from being alive, they seriously want to own you. I know it’s just a matter of time before you know how to fly on your own. And I really cherish the moment now when I still own you.  You make me feel like I’ve been locked inside a dark tunnel and you are the light bursting inside to reach in and lift me out. I want to follow you around and soak in your joy.

What a gift, Maya. Thank you.


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