You are so cute, and so pretty. You look—you are—incredibly happy. Please eat more ice cream. I want to remember you like this.
You are eight years old—nine at most—so it feels premature to tell you not to hate yourself. If you were any other nine-year-old, I wouldn’t go there yet. Maybe this means I’m out of touch. Perhaps I’m too old to remember what it’s like to be your age.
But I do remember what it was like to be you.
You are lonely. You read a lot of books, and listen to music that few else appreciate (Karen Carpenter is still the shit, by the way; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise). And you have at least three pairs of overalls. Although I want to recommend a change in wardrobe, I do admit that your fashion sense (or lack of it) is quirky and endearing. (Judging by what people say about me at work these days, nothing has changed.)
You are a natural born performer, but for the love of god, stop crying over your math homework. It’s okay to prefer words over numbers, but please do not deny your strengths. The fact that I am exactly three times your age is not lost on me. I know that you are fascinated by numbers, and by the patterns they create. You are—admit it—drawn to the exactness of it all. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t keep your room as fastidiously organized as you do. Nor would you get such a thrill out of writing neatly along the light blue lines of a brand new notebook.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that you know more than you think you do. You’re not only the eldest child in the house, but are also the oldest kid on the block, and you’re not sure how the hell you got stuck being the leader. It’s overwhelming, and you didn’t ask for it. But you are, I promise you, cut out for this. Teach your little sister all the cool shit that you know. Read to her. Show her how to write her name. (She’s twenty-three now, and her handwriting is atrocious.)
I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say this much, Amelia (I know you love it when people call you that): You will, as an adult, finally succeed at getting people to refer to you by the name on your birth certificate. And you will also grow up to have way better taste in beer than your dad does.
You know what’s good. Do what you love, and be who you are.
And like I said, please eat more ice cream.
you at 27