Dear Crazy Sissy Missy,
Nine years ago today we met for this first time. It was easily the best day of my life. There was a lot of fear in it for me, because I had no idea how you would change mama and dada’s world, and in turn, my own world. You were an unknown whose consequences I could not possibly imagine or figure out. But the first time I held you in my arms, it didn’t matter how you would change my relationship with mama and dada. Because you were here, and it meant that you changed me.
And now you’re nine. It’s unbelievable, really. It doesn’t feel like it’s been nine years since I was driving the Rocha kids to school as their nanny, all the while waiting anxiously for my phone to ring to tell me you were here. I couldn’t wait to find out whether Sprout, as we fondly called you, was a girl or a boy. And my phone rang in the eight o’clock hour, and it was mama, and she said, “Charisse is here. She was born at 7:45. She’s healthy. You can come by later and meet her.”
Sissy, you won’t understand this now, but as I write these words I have tears in my eyes.
I met you and I fell in love. I hope some day you get to know what it feels like to love someone the way I love you. I’m not your mama but I love you so much I feel like I could burst sometimes. I hope you get to be a mama and an auntie someday to my own kids and get the wonderful job of loving them just like I love you. The way I feel about you is something I wish everyone felt about someone else at one point in their lives.
You truly are the light of my life. You are one of the few people who can make me so mad (hellooo, slow poke!) and five minutes later have me laughing so hard I’m crying. I seriously cannot believe some of the things that come out of your mouth sometimes. I know it won’t be long before mama calls me or texts me to tell me “Guess whose sassy mouth got her sent to the principal’s office today.” Some of your recent gems:
Me, playing a game: “Name the three primary colors.”
You: “Red, while, and blue!”
You, being gross: “I’ve given myself a Dutch oven. It’s actually quite delightful.”
Me: “What’s the name of your choir concert?”You: “It’s the ‘Share the Joy’ [insert eight-year-old air quotes around that] concert.”
Me: “Uh, that’s not how you use air quotes. Why are you using them?”
You: “Because ‘I’m already it the concert!’ [more air quotes there]”
Mama: “Reesie, you have cream cheese around your mouth.”
You: “I know. I’m saving it for later.”
My Goosie Girl, I just love you so much. You are one of the happiest kids I have ever met. Seriously, me and mama and dada are always commenting about how happy you always are. You love to giggle and it’s easy to make you laugh, whether it’s with a cheesy joke, a wrestling match, unexpected zerberts, ticking that spot behind your knee, or watching America’s Funniest Video (once you asked me, “Sissy, why is it so funny when they get hurt?!”), we can almost always get a giggle out of you. And your imagination! Even though we live in a world where all you have ever known is technology, I love that you can put down the iPod and computer and play. You love to tell stories and make books with paper, and just last week you and Maddy took about a hundred cardboard boxes out of the recycling bin and turned them into a village for your zoo of Littlest Pet Shops. You name — and remember the names! — of all of your stuffed animals. You’re a dog lover and so compassionate when it comes to animals. You enjoy trying new foods and can gobble sushi with the best of them.
But what I love the most is that you’re just you. You haven’t lost your individuality. You’re starting to like things that are more popular, but you are still uniquely Charisse. The outfits you put together, the way you interact with people, the things you say and the wonky way your brain works: DON’T EVER CHANGE. I love that you’re true to yourself.
I pray that nine is a big year for you. You’re growing up, my littlest love. I tell you all the time that I want to freeze you in this moment but I can’t, and I wouldn’t, because I am excited to watch you become the girl you’re growing in to. I pray that you learn to love God and stay true to yourself and know who you are and that your value and worth are so much more than you could ever imagine.
Thank you for nine years of laughter and crazy nights and for the one time you threw up all down my back and all over my bed. I would not change a single second of it because I have you as my Sissy on this day, your ninth birthday.
I love you so much starfish,