Lily: Nine

Hi kid,

It snowed today. Snow on top of two-week-old sheet ice. So we took the two of you sledding. B had her fill after the first run and wanted to go play in the snow-covered playground, but you and I got a couple more in. You’re so much braver than you used to be, going down those hills. I remember when you would insist on riding down with one of us, and when you couldn’t carry the sled back up the hill. I remember you crying when you’d get a face full of snow. Now you have this wonderful, nose-crinkling laugh.

Not that you’ve lost your conservative streak entirely. We went to Mexico earlier this month, and you had a minor meltdown the week before. You were worried that it wouldn’t be as good as the place we’d taken you last year. That we had reached peak vacation that very first time and everything else would be worse. You loved our trip this year, of course, and on the way home we made lists as a family of ways this place was better and ways that one was. We wanted you to see the adventure and variety and possibility in all of it. But mostly, as I write this, I wonder what you’ll think as an adult, reading it. Will you recognize that anxiety, or will it feel like a far away thing? I don’t honestly know which future my money’s on.

A thing I wrote in my last letter is still true: you’re not 8 any more. 9 feels very different. Different emotions, different fashion, different language. And sometimes as your dad I can get swept away in it. It’s so excellent to be able to introduce you to new things, and talk with you about what you think. I love our conversations, and love that there are still things I know about that you find cool. But it’s also tricky because you’re still a kid. Things like a suspenseful video game (even without any violence) can really freak you out. You’re such a big kid until we hit some element where you aren’t. And then I ask myself if we screwed up. If we brought things to you that you weren’t ready for, yet. I hope that we are finding the right balance there, and that we keep finding it. I want to keep being someone who has new things to show you.

Missy and I are doing up our wills. We both plan to be around for a long time, to be clear, but it’s still the right thing to do. And one of the things we talk about a lot is what it would mean for you and B, if we weren’t here. The way you are with each other is the most special thing, Lil. It fills me to bursting. The photos app on my phone is stuffed with pictures of the two of you holding hands while we walk somewhere. I know it will change profoundly as you grow up, but I hope you’ll never lose that closeness. When you were B’s age, you used to want a “Princess Lily” story every night before bed. Now when I put B to bed, she always wants a “Princess Lily and Princess Beatrix” story. You are very much your own kids, but your stories are intertwined.

Missy finally got B down, and you’re out like a light. I’m going to go sit with M and pour some scotch before we go to sleep.

I love you I love you I love you, Lil. Thank you for sometimes finding me cool.


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