Dearest Daphne Belle,
Happy birthday, my love. This year, the year you turned four, you were celebrated almost the entire month rather than just on your birthday! We celebrated you with a Pirate Fairy birthday party the first week of August; you and your friends doused each other with squirt guns and water balloons, ate pizza and cake, and you opened a mountain of presents at our house on Kristy. For some of the party, you sat near the tree and pouted because Jackson targeted you with his squirt gun, and Lily sat by you while you reveled in her attention. You love attention, little one, you love people and their reaction to you, so I guessed that you were just pleased with the one on one time.
We celebrated you early this year, because we traveled to Maine a few days after your birthday, and it was hectic! On the 18th, Dad Dave and I spoiled you with special cupcakes that you picked out at the store with him and you and Dad Jon spent the day together. THEN you were celebrated again in Massachusetts when we had a party at Kristina's house and Nana bought you a pretty chocolate cake with pink icing.
Dad Dave and I are sending you to dance class for your birthday present this year! You started last week, and you absolutely loved it. You weren't afraid for me to leave, and you can't wait to go back.
Daphne, you are always celebrated, because you are so loved.
In the past year, my dear, you have continued to astonish all of us with your brilliance. Your vocabulary is ridiculous. You correctly use words that even some adults aren't familiar with (you told Nana you were dehydrated in Maine!). You constantly ask all of us what words mean, and then you remember and incorporate them into your every day dialogue. It is obvious when you talk to other kids that you are different; I watch your interactions, and I see you so confidently introduce yourself and ask them about themselves. Other kids are not as mature as you (you who spend so much time with all of us adults), and they stare at you. You try so hard to engage them, and one day you will, but for now, you are just older than your years.
That is not to say you are some super human four year old! You are still very much a four year old girl, Daphne. You think poop jokes are hysterical and you adore your stuffed animals. Your sweet spirit is obvious; I tried to downsize those animals and you brokenheartedly cried that you would miss them too much. You love the Disney princesses, Sophia the First, Doc McStuffins, books, crafts, and you especially love when I pretend to be your stuffed animals and talk to you in silly voices. It's your favorite, really, and it's adorable. You still love pink the most. You wanted to be Elsa from Frozen for Halloween, but changed your mind when you saw Maleficent. I exercised my mom authority, however, and I am hoping you will wear the pink bunny costume I bought instead!
This year, you conquered potty training, despite a stubborn start, and you haven't looked back. This year, you were kind of scared of the ocean after she knocked you down with her strong waves. During the week we were there, you conquered your fear and joyfully played in the waves, even trying to boogie board. This year, you had a scary eye doctor appointment, and you triumphed! We were all scared for you, that you might have to have surgery. The specialist put stinging drops in your eyes and even though you HATED it, you endured so stoically. We had to put cream on your eye lids for three weeks afterwards, and Daphne, I hope I never forget how you composed yourself, put your fear aside, and bravely let us pull the bottom lid down for the medicine. You amazed me with your courage and your perseverance. Because you did so well, you haven't had any problems since.
You wanted to start school this year, but I decided to wait so you could just hang out with your friends at Cheri's one more year. Sister Michael, my friend from work, watched you one night as you talked to her about letters, numbers, colors, and shapes, and she said that you could start Kindergarten tomorrow. She taught for 42 years, so we were all really happy that you proved to be just as smart as we thought.
You can be pretty sassy, though, my dear one... Lately, you have been testing the limits and branching out where ever you can. You ALWAYS want things done a certain way. If we are playing, you often say, "No, Mommy, like THIS. Do it like I SAY!" You are very bossy and demanding. I accommodate you to your detriment. This whole mommy thing is so hard; I want to teach you how to be a good person, but I relentlessly spoil you. I am hoping, dear one, that I will do better for you.
I have to work so much, Daphne, and sometimes you are sad when I leave. We make up for it with snuggles when I return, and you spend a lot of time with your dads, too. They are both just as enamored with you as I am. You really are lucky in that, kiddo. I'm so, so grateful for both of them and their love for you.
I cannot believe that when I write this letter next year, you will be starting school. I cannot believe how fast these years are flying. I cannot believe that the tiny one I have carried is now her own person. Daphne, the person you are, the person you are continuing to become, is so beautiful. You are kind, compassionate, independent, smart, funny (you LOVE jokes and making people laugh), and always so loving and affectionate. I am so proud of you.