Today is your first birthday. You're pretty cranky today because you haven't had enough sleep: you're still a little jetlagged from our trip west to your cousin Amanda's wedding, and your Grandma and Grandpa wanted to see you first thing this morning before they left to go camping. Grandma baked you an angel-food cake, and was so happy to watch you dig into it with your little hands while the "1" candle dripped wax all over the frosting.
I've been writing this letter in my head for at least a month now. Every time I think about your being a whole year old, I want to touch your cheek and nibble your toes and hug you close to me as I feel my heart expanding yet more in my chest. You are already such a remarkable little person, with an irresistibly cheerful disposition and an infectious giggle that we hear so very often.
You meet new situations with curiosity and aplomb. Yesterday was your first Kindersports class, and your first swimming lesson, and in between them a very persistent five-year-old named Grace made sure that we went to the drop-in centre nearby. The Kindersports class was far, far above your age level -- you were the only one there not walking yet, and you didn't seem that interested in passing balls around or rolling down an incline -- but you still giggled and waved all your arms in happiness. At the drop-in centre you worked for a very long time on the new toys, turning them over in your hands and inspecting them and trying them in your little mouth. Su, who runs the place, introduced herself to you, and you laughed, and charmed her. You charm just about everyone.
You love water. You like to crawl into the hall bathroom and dip your hands into the cats' water bowls, and you sit on the bathmat and gesture at the tub and urgently move your fists up and down in front of your chest to make the sign for "bath". At your swimming lesson I dunked you a few times and you barely flinched. You splashed and giggled and thoroughly enjoyed yourself, and when I brought you home you passed out within the hour. Sweet baby.
You and I walk around the city a lot, you tied close to me in your beautiful mei tai. You point at things and flirt with strangers and sometimes tweak my nipples, hard, and laugh. People smile broadly at us and ask how old you are and gush about your cuteness. When you've been carried for too long you get restless, and you want to get down and crawl. You love being outside; one of your favourite places is on the grass, grabbing sticks and leaves and waving them around while you sing happily.
Your dad is completely smitten with you. He sits on the floor with you and plays little games like "where's the block?" and sings little songs that he makes up on the spot. He takes you out geocaching at least once a week, taking you places where you can get plenty of Grass Baby Time. Every night he straps you onto his belly in the blue carrier, and walks you up and down the hallway outside our door until you fall asleep. I watch him with you and love him more than ever.
Your favourite food is probably ice cream; smoked salmon and garlicky garlicky hummus are pretty high on the list too. Your favourite song is Ladytron's "Destroy Everything You Touch" (seriously) and you get a huge kick out of stroking the soft soft bunting that Kerry and Mary and Toby sent last year when you were born.
Tonight we're taking you out to see the knitters, who are fans of yours. Megan at the yarn shop said we could celebrate your birthday there, so we're about to head out.
I love you very, very much, and I feel so honoured and privileged to be one of the people responsible for helping you find your way in this world. I'm proud of the job we've done so far and I know there will be many challenges in the years ahead. I hope we can continue to do right by you.
Happy birthday, my beloved little daughter.