Beatrix: Six

Hi kiddo,

Beatrix, in a pink superhero cape with a silver lightning bolt on it, looking at/deciding between two "I got my covid shot" photo frames for taking an "after shot" photo

You actually turned six a few weeks ago but it’s taken until now for me to be able to sit down and write. Happy new year, B!

It’s a lazy New Year’s Day Saturday morning. This morning you helped me spot a Northern Flicker, and now you’re in the basement playing Just Dance. We had a conversation over breakfast about school starting up again this week. About how there’s much more COVID going around than there was when I wrote my last letter to you. And how it’s possible that you, or your sis, or your parents will catch it this time. You are taking it in stride.

You’re a really analytical kid about this stuff. Which is funny, because you are also so full of so many feelings. It’s such an adventure to parent you right now. Because everything. Everything from a big achievement to, like, a loud noise, is cause for feelings. Big feelings. Huge feelings.

(You just came back up to let me know you scored Superstar on Water Me, by Lizzo. The pride on your face is another one of those feelings. When you’re proud of yourself you stand there with a half-smile and hope we’ll recognize how important it is to you. Then you’ll collect a fist bump or a hug and run back to whatever it was you were doing.)

Anyway. Huge feelings. Those are a normal part of being a kid, or being a human. But what I find so special about you is the way you talk about them. You don’t hide them or mislabel them. You have this assumption that, whatever they are, they’re valid and you’re allowed to feel them and you just want to talk about them so that other people will understand you. I love this about you very much.

You’re in the midst of a bunch of medical stuff lately that I hope you won’t even remember by the time you’re reading this. Nothing serious. Dental stuff. Allergist stuff. Your own first COVID shot (you wore a cape). With another one coming soon. Two years of pandemic precautions means that you just don’t have a lot of practice with normal medical stuff. So we’re making up some time there.

There’s more time we want to make up. We got to see all your grandparents when the case counts were lower, but we didn’t get to see your great grandma before she died. The farthest you’ve travelled in the last two years was Quebec, once, by car. Your mom and I are trying to work out how to bring more travel, more visits, back into our life as a family. We think there will be more of that in 2022. The latest COVID variant is driving a huge wave right now which makes us pull in our risk tolerances a bit, but we feel like we have a better ability to see through that noise now. We’re both boosted, (a phrase I hope will be meaningless by the time you’re reading this) and we think that opens up new possibility, too.

I wrote letters like this to your sis every 6 months, too. I stopped when Lil turned 10, and I plan to do the same for you. But, when I let it in, I’m really struck by how… altered yours are by what the last two years have been. Your mom and I have tried to make them loving and rich and as full of adventure as we can. But I hope 2022 gives you more space to adventure without needing to be a 6 year old epidemiologist.

There’s this old Elizabeth Stone poem I quote all the time. I’ve never found a better way to express what it feels like to watch you and your sis move through the world. It goes,

“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

I love you, B. I’m proud of you. I’m gonna go see if you need any help on Just Dance now.

Daddy

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