Dear Mary Grace,
Happy Birthday! I can't believe you're four. Dad and I have a bachelor's degree in parenting now, which is weird.
You've grown and changed a lot in the last year, but a lot of things about you have stayed the same. Parts of you are already the way they're going to be for your whole life. For example, I think you'll always love blueberries, and when I wrote your birthday letter last year they were your favorite.
I think the most striking change over the past year is that you've turned into such a social creature. Of course, you've always liked to be around people, and you've always been friends with Owen, but this year you made so many new friends. Watching you play with Esther this summer, I realized that something had changed. You talk to other kids differently now. You'll walk up to a new kid at the park and say, "Hi, my name is Mary Grace, do you like princesses?" and before I know it you're off playing and laughing together.
This is the last year that you'll really belong only to Daddy and me. Next year you'll start school, and your friends will begin to take our places as the most important people in your life. Sure, it'll happen slowly, and I know that you'll come back to us when you're grown, just like I've come back to my parents (even though I was a terrible teenager), but Kindergarten marks the beginning of the time when you'll care more about what your friends think about your clothes or your hair than what Daddy and I think. You'll listen to the music they like. You'll use the slang they use. And it won't be long before Daddy and I seem old and boring compared to your young, fun friends.
I can only hope that those years go as quickly as these past four years have.
Here's the checklist I started doing when you were a baby:
Your favorite toy for playing is: anything with a princess on it, or in it - particularly dress-up clothes
Your favorite toy for snuggling is: Widgie (a stuffed dachshund Beanie Baby)
Your favorite food is: blueberries
Your favorite book is: Si Yo Tuviera Un Dragon - but it could be because Mommy is silly reading it
Your favorite activity is: school
Your favorite place to go is: Grammaland and the Children's Museum - it's a tie
Your best friend is: Claire
Something new that you're doing: telling jokes - your favorite is "How do ducks learn to fly? ... They just wing it!" and knock knock jokes, which you don't quite understand, yet. So you'll say "Knock knock," and we'll say, "Who's there?" You'll say, "Elephant." "Elephant who?" And the punch line is, "Elephant, stop sign, GO!"
Something you've mastered: Manipulation. For example, when you're in trouble you'll cross your eyes at me to make me laugh and forget why I'm mad.
Something people say about you: "She is so smart!"
Something that you're saying is: you're singing songs. I love to hear you sing. You know lots and lots of songs all the way through.
Something Dad and I are proud of you for: you work so hard at your "homework" (your Tag books) and you're learning so much!
Something surprising about you: you have an amazing memory. You remember things we did and places we went a long time ago.
I love you, Cuppycake!