Dear sweet Alexa,
Today is a special day. Four years ago today, you entered this world. You arrived four weeks early, so small, and already cautious. You were born face forward, watching where you were going, and once you could see the world awaiting you, you paused for a while to scope it out. From the day we brought you home, you wanted to be held securely at all times. If you fell asleep in our arms and we tried to put you down, you woke up crying. Eventually your father and I clued in to the fact that the best place for you to sleep was nestled securely between us, where you felt safe and loved.
Security—safety—seems to be more important to you than it is to many other children. You’re cautious. You watch other children and get to know them through their interactions with others long before you decide to reveal your own personality to them. You don’t like to get too far from Mama and Daddy; especially in unfamiliar situations, you prefer to stay close to us. Sometimes I worry that your need to feel secure is so strong that it prevents you from enjoying life, from taking those risks that make life fun and exciting.
But over the last year, you’ve grown. You’ve developed a fondness for exploring: first in the safety of our basement, and then in a local park, where you surprised me with your willingness to wander far from me. You’ve made a couple of friends and seem to realize that people other than Mama and Daddy can be trustworthy, too.
Every day, you look more like a little girl and less like the baby we welcomed four years ago. Every day, you speak more clearly, with longer and more complex sentences, so that we rarely have to interpret your words for others anymore. Every day, you seem to understand more and more about the world around you.
And your personality is growing in leaps and bounds. You’ve shown a generous spirit—you were so upset when I carelessly mentioned that some children didn’t have toys; you cried and immediately started picking out toys to give to this toyless child whom you’d never met because “a child should have a hundred toys,” as you tearfully proclaimed. Your desire to help is powerful, as is your delight when you’re able to do so. Your curiosity about the world is matched only by the strength of your developing will … a will that I pray that you and I together will learn to control and to guide into constructive purposes.
I will not pretend that it always is easy to parent you, Alexa. That strong will of yours can make it challenging. But I would have it no other way. The same determination and resolve—dare I say stubbornness?—that gets you sent into time out so frequently now will help you to stand firm later, when you’re standing up for what’s right.
I see glimpses of your future in your current struggles and in your current triumphs. It’s a good future. You are growing into your name, Alexa Ruth, Defender Friend. You are strong willed enough, and growing brave enough, to stand up for what is right. You are sensitive and generous, and when you decide to let people in, to let people see you and know you, you will be a good friend.
You’re still growing, still developing. You’re still a little girl—and I love the little girl that you are—but you are growing into a big girl, and I love the glimpses of that big girl, too. I am so grateful to God for having given me these last four years with you. I am so excited to see what happens in you, how you grow and develop, who you become, in these coming years.
Happy birthday, my sweet Lexa. Your daddy and I love you.