I want to give you the world. I want each morning to be an adventure, not a “let’s get ready for school scuttle” but a true adventure — complete with dinosaurs, butterflies, sword fights and spaceships. I want to take you out of your crib and into a jungle. I want you to share your morning banana with a monkey named Timothy, and then turn the peel into a hat — to shield you from that temperamental tropical sun. I want you to run with gazelles and hop alongside kangaroos.
I want you to always to enjoy the promise of an empty laundry basket or cardboard box. I want to watch you sail across the kitchen floor, protecting your father and I from the Loch Ness Monster or a band of pirates.
I want to indulge your imagination each and every day.
I want you to enjoy the simplicity of snuggling on a sick day. I want you to lay on the ground and see animals in the sky. I want you to run through puddles and not worry about the mess you are making. (We can clean it up later.) I want you to sit in the sand building castles until the tide carries them away. I want you to blow as many kisses as you do bubbles, and I want you to always be a vocal eater. Your “mmhmmm’s” express true joy. I want you to keep that joy close.
I want basic things too: I want your belly and heart to always be full, your mind to always be questioning, and your body to always be warm.
But I also want you to learn to be strong, to be independent. Maybe it isn’t the worst thing that I didn’t give you that extra cookie. I know you are crying now, but in a few minutes you will stop. In a few minutes you will move on to better things and forget about the cookie incident which, right now, is breaking my heart. In a few minutes you will have learned a valuable lesson: how to self-soothe. (I just hope I don’t destroy that lesson when I slip you another animal cracker before bed.)
I love you, dear Amelia, even when I am screaming and crying and seem like I don’t. I love you when you are trying to draw on the kitchen floor. I love you when you run out of the bathroom, buck naked, before bath time and I have to chase you around the house. I love you when you wake up in the middle of the night, and even when you wake up again and again and again.
And I want you to know that — today and tomorrow and always — I love you.