Maddalyn at Age 7: An Open Letter to My Daughter on Her Birthday
My daughter had her seventh birthday, and in this open letter, I’m going to tell you who she is right now.
Daughter, at age 7, you are kind to strangers and their pets. You like to give people art things that you make, and you will make art using anything.
You don’t talk about school very much. You say the other children don’t like you and they are scared of you. You always tell me about the nice teachers. I’m glad you know some nice teachers who are kind to you. Those few will make school more tolerable for you.
Your creative energy and imagination capacity are too high to work well in environments with a lot of forced structure.
To paraphrase what I’ve said to you, [grade] school will be hard for a long time, but there will be small, fun moments mixed in. School is designed with a lot of parameters (rules) to make students learn and behave the same. Your creative energy and imagination capacity are too high to work well in environments with a lot of forced structure. In so many words, that means you’ll enjoy your adult life a lot more. Your brain needs choices in order to learn. The ability to choose is the veggies and lean meats that will allow you to thrive mentally and emotionally.
Today, you’re more confident when doing your hair. You’ve stopped pouting, sighing, and stomping after I tell you to dry it or pick it. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I had to tell you to dry your hair after a shower.
Maddalyn, you probably favor Jazmine Dubois to most people, but your personality is very much Cindy McPhearson. You’ll get that reference when Daddy lets you watch The Boondocks when you’re old enough to file taxes. Not just because of the show’s bad language, but because I need you to prove you have a solidly rigid self-identity in order to avoid a Zodiac-Label Effect where you slip down the rabbit hole of matching yourself to the fictional character’s personality.
You’re going to be extremely decent at roller skating. Maybe next year we’ll buy your first pair of skates. I won’t let you skip learning to ride a bike without training wheels, so let’s wrap that up first. You’re a fast runner, and in the year 2023, I’m going to test your running skills.
You love your brother. You love your dad and your mom, and I do the best I can to make sure you never feel like you have to choose whose team you’re on. There is only one team — no matter how dysfunctional. You and your brother do not deserve the burden of your parents’ conflict, and I wish I could shield you from all of the bad energy.
You’re almost 50 lbs. You still sit on my lap and on my knee when I’m squatting on my haunches. You don’t climb onto my head-shoulders when I’m sitting on the floor anymore. I miss that, but now it would be like Spider-Girl crawling onto an exercise ball.
I’m proud to be your Dad, Maddalyn. Mi Belle. Yachiru. My Tomato.