I am not even sure how it happened that we could be days away from your eleventh birthday. It seems like just the other day that you shot out into the world like a cannonball, as the story goes and completed our family of four. I have so much to say and still wonder if the words will ever capture just how much you are in the world.

You my second born have taught me much about love. The first time I argued with you about how I was certain I loved you more you set me straight, “mom all the love you give me I take it and make it bigger, that’s Kinny love.” You remind me of this when I slip up and think I could possibly love you more then that magnifying heart of love you were gifted with. It’s a reminder, to me, that we all arrive with the ability to make the love we receive bigger if we can just remember to keep our hearts open.

I see your determination to learn in the way that works with a brain designed only for you. That day in the park, when you looked to the seat on my bike and saw the world DEMO explaining to me that it was “the first letter of dad, the last letter of the and the first two letters of mom.” You did not know the names of the letters yet there you were reading, right in front of me. A testament to the fact that each one of us learns in our own way and the best thing I can do is walk alongside you as your partner in wonderment.

And your frustration at being called a girl, for many ages and stages. When I stopped to listen I heard it had nothing to do with any preference for either gender. But was pure outrage at a world that thought they could know something more about your gender than you did. A world that thinks with one single glance they can put a person into a category based solely on appearance.  This has been an important lesson to me. To meet people eye to eye with our shared humanity, free of the screens placed on my eyelids by a media crazy world that judges first and listens later.

Your brain wanting to pull apart each and everything you encounter to understand it from the inside out, challenges me. It challenges me because long ago I forgot it was okay to be curious and not to know things. To be the one holding less information. This is how we buttheads so fiercely now as you demand accuracy in my language and surpass me in knowledge. I hope you continue to pound head to head with any person who doubts what you know to be a truth. This sort of self knowing puts me in total awe of you so confidently in the world.

I could likely write a short novel of things that you have taught me both large and small. I will pause here though and bow the deepest bow of gratitude to you for the chance to be your mother, your partner, your loudest cheerleader, one of your closest allies and a dear friend. May this next year of your life be just as bold and adventurous as the last ten.