I’ve been reading back over my wishes for last year, and you know what’s awesome? You pretty much cracked them all. I mean, okay, there are plenty of lifetime ones that none of us will ever exactly nail – that life is a journey stuff? Trite, yes, but true – but all those goals like toilet training and staying immensely cool and surprising me every day? Yep, yes, done. As if there were ever any doubt.
And in the spirit of celebrating that joy and achievement, I have ten more wishes for you. Because I will never stop wishing for you.
1. I wish that you will continue to bring the laughs. I was bowled over when it turned out that your relentless good humour and the jokes and daftness that you bring to everyday life at home turned out to be your default position in school as well. It’s heartwarming to hear that you spend your time making friends and encouraging people to smile. Okay, we’ll probably need to have some conversations about not getting carried away (and maybe also not basing your worth on being the centre of attention), but I can’t really think of a better essential life skill than spreading the happy. You go, kid.
2. I wish for you to have an IMMENSE time at Walt Disney World! I know I’ve invested an awful lot in this since your first visit is to be at the same age as my first visit was. And it was different for me because a) different people and b) I had no expectations – whereas you, lucky creature, have been to Disneyland Paris twice already! But you’ll have your cousins with you, with my nephew the same age as his mum was when we embarked on this manic, lifetime’s love together. And I hope that will help you overcome any nerves about rides (not to mention entertain you in the crazy queues). There are some attractions we’ll experience for the first time together, and some I think will be reignited in my heart by experiencing them with you. I am highly aware that I need to not base my own excitement on yours, and that I need to accept that your experience will be what it will be. So, you’re the lucky one – when I took your father for the first time, on our honeymoon, I told him that if he didn’t love Epcot I’d regret marrying him. You, I leave to your own devices. (But please don’t hate Spaceship Earth!)
3. I wish that you will keep smashing those targets – in your own time. I knew you were a ridiculously good reader, but I had no idea until parents’ evening how good you are at, well, almost everything else as well. And it’s easy to get carried away with that and get complacent or smug – plus I’ll never apologise for being aspirational and ambitious for you, including academically. You’re smart, and that’s nothing to hide. And I think we should look to find activities that will let you enjoy your love of singing, dancing and performing. But I also don’t want your formal achievements to be everything about the way you define yourself. That kindness and joy-spreading I talked about? Equally, if not more important. So while I will pray for every success and offer you all the support you could ever possibly want to do what you dream of doing, I’m definitely not going to Tiger Mother you to the next level.
4. I wish that you will keep being amazed by small things. I pretty much adore that you are equally blown away by theme parks and the dodgy-looking wobbly Christmas tree across the road from the childminder’s. The awe is so real – so genuine and heartfelt. I love that you find something wonderful in everything and I hope you keep that for a long time.
5. I wish that you will keep liking what you like, regardless of the opinions of others. Your life is an explosion of all colours, superheroes, princesses (and queens – let’s not demote Elsa like everyone else seems to), building, drawing, reading, writing, singing, playing, computer games, puzzles… no boy things, no girl things, just things. And you don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I know school has a way of knocking the corners off and making people hide their interests to fit in, and I really really hope this doesn’t happen to you. Especially after I promised to give you my Captain America leggings when you grow up. I’d really like to keep that promise.
6. I wish that you will get to spend even more time with your cousins. A holiday together will really help and you’d think a couple of hundred miles is NBD, but somehow we never seen them quite as much as we’d like to. And when you are together, it makes me so happy watching the close and affectionate and rowdy and ridiculous relationships that you’re developing between you. It’s a wish for all of us really, because you can’t ever have too much love in your life, can you?
7. I wish that you will keep inspiring me to be better. From drawing a story out of me, to forcing me to pay attention to the balance I strike between time working and time with you, you raise me as much as I do you. I spent the first year of motherhood trying to work out how to follow a script and be a mother. But being a mother can’t be done by me to you. It must be done between us, as a lifetime’s work. You have to teach me to be the mother you need, and I have to teach you to be your most honest self.
8. I wish that you would let me brush your hair more often. Listen kid, I get that it’s boring and sometimes uncomfortable, and from the perspective of supporting your control of your own body I really, truly don’t care if you want a crew cut or Rapunzel’s braids. Just, for sanity’s sake (and so that the school don’t think I’m neglecting you), as long as it’s clean, tidy and not the snarled and knotted haystack you far too often force me to let you get away with. We’ll use the special brush and the conditioner spray and all the rest of it, but for real kid, we need to keep that thing in line.
9. I wish that you will keep playing along. I’ve never been sure whether you know that it’s me moving Kinder Egg Loki around the house or whether you really think he does it on his own, but if you are humouring me well then keep doing it. All our little in-jokes and silly conversations that only you, me and your dad really ‘get’ are what makes our little world so perfectly, unforgettably ours. Also, the bizarre knock knock jokes like “Knock knock. Who’s there? Banana. Banana who? Banana, can you paint a wall? No.” Those have to stay.
10. I wish that you will watch Ratatouille. Cos it’s great. And that Care Bears movie thing is doing my head in.
Yours with a full heart,
It’s an absolute joy to see how you relate to your daughter. This bond that you’re forming now will serve you well in years to come, through tough times and soft times. Happy new year to you and your lovely family…
[…] Eight out of ten ain’t half bad. As wishes go, failing to watch Ratatouille I can give a pass to (especially since you’ve seen more films in the cinema in one year than ever before) and not letting me brush your hair, well… there are worse things. […]