To my daughter on her birthday…

Dear Sophia,

On this day seven years ago — on the white winter-swept high plains of Norman, Oklahoma — you were born. My little princess, my pretty little thing, my lovely baby girl. My Sophia. Today is your birthday.

With each year you become less my baby girl and more a little lady. While I do celebrate this progression, there’s a part of miss who wishes to linger a little longer remembering you when you were small.

Oh, but you are small. You are a petite one. Wound tight with a compact gymnast’s build, yet delicate and graceful too. You are of a decidedly Napoleonic bearing. You can rouse yourself and raise your voice with a bellow to rival any hulking boy, and you have no problem asserting yourself amid the mad twirl of your classmates or cousins, though you have also shown an aptitude for plying your charms. You are indeed a tiny tempest.

As you grow older you grow more lovely. Wavy golden hair and eyes of sky blue, your beauty is remarked on constantly. I try not to sound too arrogant or world-weary about it in response, but one can only hear, “Your daughter is so beautiful!” so many times. I just quickly say “thank you” and move on, but it does give me pause. I worry about you sometimes. Will you grow to be conceited with your appearance? Will you press your advantage with people due to being attractive? I hope not.

Like your brothers and sisters, you are strong. Even though you have, on more than one occasion, turned up your nose at mundane chores, you throw yourself into work that you believe to be worthwhile. You’ll weed a garden tirelessly if it suits you, tramp all day through woodland trails gleefully, and I reckon you’re going to be a fierce participant in athletics due to your competitive fire.

While not as “bookish” as your elder siblings, you far surpass them in social intelligence. You can hold a room in the palm of your hand. I wonder if you will pursue a career in the arts or some other sphere of entertainment. You seem permanently within the world of the fantastical. At seven years of age you remain certain that you would like to be a “princess” when you grow up. The only other career you’ve shown an interest in is “owning a fancy restaurant” where “kings and queens will have fancy parties.”

But come what may, my sweet one, you’ll always be my little girl. I am typing this with one hand right now because you insist in curling up on my lap to listen to the gentle music playing on my computer, dozing as I type. I love sharing these moments with you. I love singing you to sleep, and holding your hand as we walk. I love the many sweet things that make you the dulcet darling you are.

 “Will I always be your baby girl?” you ask.

 “Yes Sophia, always,” I say.

 Happy birthday my little princess. May the Lord gift me many more to enjoy with you.

 Love, your devoted father,

Matthew

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