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Dear Sloan

A letter to you on your 5th birthday...
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Dear Sloan,

People say that childhood is made up of phases. I think it's meant as a way to reassure parents that when times are tough (not sleeping through the night, temper tantrums), they won't last forever. The only problem is that when things are really good, nearly perfect in fact, they're also meant to be treated as just a moment in time. But it's made me realize, that though this exact period is fleeting, the kind of person you've become is not and for that, I couldn't be more grateful.

You are sweet and pure to your core. You're never too busy to run back inside to give me another hug, to follow up repeatedly with my mom ('Fifi' to you) over the phone to see how she's feeling after a disappointing hair appointment and to closely monitor anybody's injuries that hide under bandaids. You're an excellent sous chef while making pancakes, proudly sitting cross-legged on the kitchen counter with your tongue peeking out of your mouth in concentration. And the way you wake us up in the morning is my favorite - enthusiastically skipping into our room, fully dressed with a bow in your hair, all before sunrise. My sweet, sensitive, silly girl, you light up every room you enter. Please never forget that.

You have a deep understanding of what's right and wrong and will even offer valuable advice in the car if someone's cut me off ("He doesn't have enough love in his heart"). And though you can be a figurative backseat driver in other areas of your life, mainly suggesting I exclusively wear purple dresses, I love that this past year you've found your footing. You've grown into such a confident, poised little girl and it's helped me understand how to best guide you. I let you lead, knowing that however long something takes you, whether timidly walking into a chaotic birthday party or learning how to ride a bike, it all happens in the exact time it should. There's no one better suited to teach me about patience and trust than the person I admire most.

I adore your sense of curiosity, constantly asking questions (somehow retaining all of the answers) and quietly observing everything around you. It makes surprises tough since you catch on way quicker than you should, but I appreciate how you keep us on our toes. You show me how to navigate situations with a kind of maturity I can only hope to absorb by being in your presence. When we moved from our beloved house a few weeks back, you let your sadness wash over you, clutching onto a paper butterfly that had adorned your bedroom wall since birth, finding strength in the memories it held. In our new dining room later that night, your eyes still swollen with grief, it took only a few moments, between bites of pizza, for you to come around. You already see the significance of not fighting your feelings and to sit with them, even if they hurt. You quickly understood, my little resilient one, that home is wherever we're all together and I can't wait for you to spread your wings even wider this next year.

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