Beatrix: Seven

Hi B,

The lights keep flicking off and on in the house.

Beatrix and Lily, in winter coats, walk along a boardwalk near the lake

I’m a bit late writing you this letter because the last few weeks have been an adventure. I don’t know how much of it you’ll remember when you’re older. I don’t know if you’ll remember staying at a hotel in our own city. Or room service french fries. Or reading by flashlight in a house getting very cold while we waited for the crew to reconnect us. But, suffice it to say, that when the electrician finds asbestos behind the breaker panel, it takes a whole team of people, and several days, to get everything sorted. Anyway it’s all better now. Or, will be, once we figure out why this circuit isn’t lighting up properly.

You’re seven now, and Lil’s nearly thirteen. I guess by the time you’re reading this, that will seem young and simple in the rear-view mirror. Even my last letter to you seems far away now. Distance flattens out the details. But, up close, seven is an age that is nuanced and complex. Six had plenty of tears, plenty of friends you liked playing with more, or less. But seven has shifting cliques, gender nonsense about who’s allowed to play with whom, and this pressure not to be weird.

You come home, and talk with us over dinner, and sort of snort disgustedly about it all. You are declarative. It’s cool to be weird, you declare. It doesn’t make sense to say girls can only play with other girls, you declare. And what about NB kids, it’s not fair to them at all, you declare. It would be boring if everyone were the same, you declare. But after each declaration, there’s this little pause as you make eye contact and check with us. Check that you’re not the only one who thinks so. Check that it doesn’t actually have to be as rigid as the grade two orthodoxy would have you believe. It doesn’t, kiddo. But you already know that.

(The lights are working again, it was a bad breaker. But now the dishwasher’s off. The electrician says he’s close to done, though.)

On weeks like this, when everything is moving at once, I think a lot about your mom, and the kind of team we are. I wonder how you and Lily experience that, and what you’ll remember when you’re older. You should know, B, that your mom is incredible. I don’t know what words I could write to you that would capture it, but the best parts of your fierceness and tenderness and confidence and integrity and energy and joy all rhyme with hers. At seven it’s probably not possible to step back far enough to see all that. But I’ll tell you that, at 44, it’s astonishing. She is the best person I know and the only person I could imagine building this life with. Go hug her after you read this.

Quick facts you’ll need to know about your interests at seven:

  • You’ve told us you’d like to go to an art college, with a focus on Sculpture, Abstract, and Kawaii.
  • Your birthday was not dinosaur-themed. Your birthday was Ankylosaurus-themed. Specifically.
  • The hotel room where we stayed while the power was out had an in-room safe. You spent a good half hour hacking on it and then later announced, “I really like having my own safe.”
  • You have decided, for the time being at least, that you are a cat person.

By the time I write the next one of these, the days will be longer, you’ll be done grade two, and the dishwasher will work again. Probably. I’ll work on the in-room safe, you go hug your mom.

Love you kiddo,


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