Wow, six! How did that happen?

It’s been a tough year, missy, hasn’t it? And it’s got nothing to do with you and everything to do with the world we live in.

The first half of your sixth year was pretty great. You finished kindergarten (wow, was that really less than a year ago?) brimming with confidence, and oh-so-ready for school.

Your friends have all of a sudden become the centre of your world, and (once I get over the fact that your parents are no longer the centre of the world) that’s really nice. Most weekends you would spend out on the street, riding up and down the road with your friends, and having a blast. It was just wonderful to see.

In January you started school, your little checkered dress reaching well below your knees, yet very little traces of nervousness in you. I was so worried for you. Transitions haven’t always been easy. Yet you took to school like a duck to water. Loving the structure, making friends instantly, and enjoying the company of your easy-going teacher. By March everything was feeling settled. And then it hit.

We couldn’t have predicted this second half of your sixth year. All of a sudden everything we’d worked for, everything we’d planned, every routine we had established was out the window. Coronavirus was in town.

Suddenly school turned to home school, and it wasn’t easy for you. Your whole world changed. The friends you loved so dearly were no longer available to you, and school was something that Mummy and Daddy fit in between meetings. It was hard, it was emotional, but we got through it.

Your ability to get through it impressed us so much. I’m not sure we coped as well as you did (but don’t get me wrong, there were hard days for you too – days where you would just cry, or tell me you miss your friends, or just not want to do anything, and that’s OK. I felt like that too).

Then, back to normal … briefly, before being thrust back into lockdown, this time more extreme than ever, and a sixth birthday spent at home with just Mum and Dad.

Through this year I’ve got a chance to see sides of you I’ve never seen before, and I’ve got to say – I could learn a lot from you. You have been amazing. You have adapted to ongoing uncertainty with such a great attitude. You have smiled when things are tough. You’ve even offered advice – and good advice! – to Mumma and Dadda when we were struggling.

But what stands out the most is your capacity for kindness. My heart fills with warmth just thinking about the kind person you’ve become. The kind of person who willingly shares their most cherished possessions with their friends, because it makes them happy. The kind of person who starts her birthday by giving a gift to Mum and Dad, rather than herself. The kind of person who likes to send neighbours little letters, just to make them feel happy at the moment. You’re amazing.

We are so proud of the person you’re becoming.

People told us that starting school would mean new learned behaviours, new attitude. But I wasn’t expecting this. Instead of negative side effects, all we’ve seen is this positive warmth you bring to people’s lives. You’re not sucked in by what your peers say or do, you have a good morale compass, and you live your life aligned to it. You bring sunshine into the world of everyone who has anything to do with you.

Plus, you’re so, so smart! Unbelievably smart. You’ve even been known to school me in a thing or two, and I have to just pause, and say “good point”, because you’re amazing. Your emotional intelligence, your common sense, your heart of gold and your intelligence just makes for this amazing person. And I just can’t wait to see what you do next!

Happy birthday my love. May your seventh year be full of freedoms that you haven’t had this year. I know each year I end with more long-term wishes for you, but at this point all I can hope for is a year that allows you to run free, be a kid, and have fun with your friends. The rest will come.