1. You are loved. Please know that this is where it all starts. We love you, your grandparents love you, God especially loves you and chose you for something special. Also, so many people at your new school already love you! You have a very safe place to land while you explore this beautiful world. We're all in your corner. Go get 'em, girl!
2. Our pride, like our love, is unconditional. You can't have any more or any less of it. Nothing you will ever achieve will make me more proud of you. And no mistake you ever make will make me less proud of you. You are you. You are enough.
3. I'm sorry I'm not perfect, but I'm glad you know that by now. I thought it was my job to keep you perfect - the way you were when I got you. But I've learned that it's my job to show you what imperfection looks like. It's my job to show you how to solve problems, how to get mad, how to make the most of the crap that life throws at you. I don't always make the best choices, and sometimes I yell and get scary...but I don't hurt people, and that's what I hope to show you. It's okay to be mad or sad or cranky or upset. It's normal! Just remember that your feelings never validate harming someone else. Not even your sister.
4. Fairy tales make you smart, as long as you're willing to think about the hard parts. Never settle for the first rendition. Ask questions. Create your own endings. Imagine what the world would be like if you were that princess in the tower, or living in a far away land, or scrubbing floors. The real magic in fairy tales is the unique perspective they give us on the world. With a healthy imagination and a lot of empathy, you will change lives.
5. Your daddy is your prince. Sure, he's my husband and the love of my life, but he's your prince. You have a relationship with him that is separate and whole and beautiful. He makes you a better person, even if you're resistant to that idea. He is teaching you his first language - the language of his parents and your grandparents - so that you will have access to half of your family story. Without him, you're just a girl in a play dress, but with him, you are royalty. Don't forget that.
6. Being nice is really hard sometimes, but it's always worth it. People can be so mean. When someone is mean to you, it's hard not to hate them. But hate is like the plaque that causes cavities! It eats away at us until there's a big hole in our hearts. Being nice isn't easy, but it's every bit as important as brushing your teeth.
7. The whining has got to go. You can think of better ways to persuade people. You are so clever. Sometimes I'm shocked at how easily I give in to your well-planned requests. Words are more powerful than tears, and you know a lot of great words.
8. Food is your friend. Enjoy it. All of it. I don't worry that you'll be overweight or underweight. I worry that you won't understand how amazing food can be! Color, flavor, texture...it's a road trip for the senses! Don't panic. It won't kill you.
9. Don't forget about your sister and brother. It's your job to love them when we're not around. Someday they'll be in school, too. You don't need to be a knight in shining armor, but please don't be an enemy. They need to know you're all on the same team.
10. You are the intersection of two lines of heritage. Each branch of our tree was formed by someone else's choices. Your grandparents made bold choices. We made bold choices. And because of that...the world has you! You are truly a miracle. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
"On the night you were born,
The moon smiled with such wonder
That the stars peeked in to see you
And the night wind whispered,
'Life will never be the same,'
Because there had never been anyone like you,
Ever in the world."
Nancy Tillman, On The Night You Were Born
Here's a song that reminds me of you, with some pictures that show how much you've grown in five short years. We love you, Nugget. Keep being awesome.