Six years – six years a force in my life, six years a mom. Six years old, Koala. Six means:
- you are going to first grade in four months
- you are asking a lot of questions but answering a lot of mine
- this is the last Koala Update I write before you will begin to know how to read.
On your birthday this year, I’m offering six things to take with you, to hold close, as you finish your last year in kindergarten and begin your journey through grade school.
1. With great curiosity, comes great – why do plants have roots, Ima?
Here’s how much curiosity you are packed with: In the time it takes your sister to get dressed, teeth brushed, shoes on, hair done, waiting at the top of the stairs for you, you have one – yes, just one – leg through your underpants. The reason, without fail, is because you have been into space and back, and have prepared a list of completely unconnected questions to ask right now in this moment. The moment between when the first leg goes in the underwear, before the second one does.
I wouldn’t trade that for the world, but I would implore that perhaps you look deep inside yourself and find the capability to multitask just a little so we get to school on time next year.
2. Get your hands dirty and make mistakes
This past year, I taught you what a pencil eraser is for. Through your tears and sweat of frustration, you saw the logic in this technology and you used it with vigor. I also introduced you to white out – once – because you had drawn a great picture but realized you couldn’t find a solution for the marker mistakes.
The thing about erasers and white out, is, they don’t turn back time, and they don’t leave a blank slate. Mistakes will always be made, and things will get blemished. But are we worse for the wear? This is what growing up is about – we experience, we became a little more full and also a little blemished.
The cuts and scrapes on your knees will tell a story for days to come. You may or may not have a scar on your face from a friendly fight – another experience to pocket.
You struggle with out-of-order and imperfection but hopefully you will come to see there is really no order, and perfection can be found in just that.
3. Use that big head and be proactive
In the last few months, there are two modes: the days when you assume you’ve got some kind of blue blood, and others where you’re begging to help around the house.
We’ve grabbed the reigns of the latter and have let you/told you to aspire to help, to do your share, to take care of your sisters, to lead by example.
Guess what? That’s only going to become more of a theme here. Our family grew. Both of your parents have full time jobs. And more than anyone who lives in this residence, you leave your stuff scattered around in organized yet haphazard piles throughout the house.
Now grab a broom.
4. Be kind to the people who love you
While I remember the day you were born like it was yesterday, your sister worships every day she spends with you. I promise you – this will not last forever. And you don’t need me to tell you that in the last half year she has mustered up quite some sass – it’s no longer a one-way street. And that’s natural, and that’s good. And it will make for a much better sparring partner throughout the years.
Please, Koala. Please be kind to the people who love you. I work on it myself as I say this to you. Let’s get better at this together. It’s a fleeting thing in siblings, trust me. You may never know unconditional love from a peer like you have right now from Bebe.
5. There’s only so much I can give you, but it’s a lot
Here’s an example of something I haven’t thought about in decades: elementary school. And it’s slowly creeping up on me that suddenly I will be thinking about it a lot more.
It’s where I painstakingly learned Hebrew. And multiplication. And what cliques are.
So, yeah, the thought of you entering the jungle with a few pencils and a Spiderman backpack completely freaks me out.
Is this a do-over for me? Absolutely not. I think the most I can do is encourage you and support you and be there for you as you trek through this stage of childhood.
6. Let it all out
You know this already, but I don’t hesitate to say it again. There’s no sound in the world like when you laugh.
When you really laugh.
When the funny thing you heard or saw or thought or said has gone deep inside you, planted roots, those roots started tickling your insides, and your whole respiratory system is now erupting in laughter.
So you know how to let it all out. What I want you to try is to let it all out even when you’re not 100% comfortable. It won’t always be comfortable, but there will always be cause for feeling free.
There’s nothing about you to hold back, Koala. We’re always here, waiting for whatever you have next. Just let it out.