Open Letter to Tabi

Tabi was star student in her classroom this week. Among other things, that meant that one of her parents was allowed to write her a letter to tell her how special she is.

Here is the result. Her teacher commented that the letter was “really long” but also “pretty funny.” But, she didn’t appreciate the joke about saying the word butt out loud to a bunch of first grade boys.

Tabi also got a kick out of the whole thing, particularly the ending. She told me later that she was giggling to herself at the mention of all of the Hamilton song titles… and that everyone else in the class was pretty confused as to what the jokes were there.

The Letter

I’m happy that this is your week to shine at school, Tabi. Becoming the star student for the week was high on your “to do” list for second grade. I don’t know if you remember or not, but you were actually making plans for this week since the first week of school when you learned that a “star student” was an actual thing.

Mom said that this note could either be “lovey-dovey” or funny. And as I’m writing this, I’m honestly not sure which it’ll be just yet. It would probably be appropriate to tell you how much we all love you and how special we know you are. We do love you. And you are special. But also… I don’t think that the smelly kid that sits next to you in class would appreciate all that nonsense. (Not that smelly kid, the other smelly kid. You said there were two, right?)

No… instead, I think I’ll just tell people about your middle name.

For those that don’t already know, it’s Joy. When I say it at home it’s usually to get your attention. As in, “Tabitha JOY Ryan, get your butt down here! We’re leaving for school!” And even though those moments in life are usually not what you would call “joyful,” I still think that Mom and I got very lucky when we settled on your middle name before you were born. Little did we know just how fitting that name would become.

(Side note: I think it’s awesome that I can make your teacher say the word “butt” out loud. Twice!)

Mom printed a photo of me holding you when you were a baby to take today with this letter. This was actually the second time that I held you in the air like this. The first time, Mom was really worried that your head was literally going to fall off your shoulders because I wasn’t holding you in the “proper” parenting way. The second time, she was so amazed that you were strong enough to hold yourself up that she grabbed her camera and took the photo.

I love this photo because it reminds me of the joy you’ve always had in your heart. When I lifted you up this way so that we could look at each other, two things happened. The first thing that happened was that you broke out in your biggest baby grin and started to giggle loudly. You absolutely loved the feeling of “flying” and the new perspective that we were showing you. You pretty much loved all of the things about being a baby because each moment was full of something new and wonderful… and it gave you the chance to fully let out the joy in your heart and show it to others.

Which brings me to the second thing that happened when we did this. You spit up in my face. I learned quickly not to try this after we had given you a bottle. But even with an empty tummy, you still managed just enough spit up to make me immediately regret my decision to put you up there. But, even while spitting up, you STILL maintained that wondrous look in your eye. That look of absolute pure joy at doing one of the things that you loved the best.

From then on, almost everything you ever did was something that you treasured with all of the joy you could muster.

  • You absolutely love singing and acting and dancing because it brings you so much happiness and joy.
  • You love performing because it gives you a chance to do something amazing for other people.
  • Yes, I count knowing all of the words to the entire first act of Hamilton as something amazing.
  • You treasure your friends and are always working to spread as much joy to them as you have to give.
  • You love school and your teachers because they are always opening your eyes to something new.

You also love your family.

I think.

Well… at least I know you love your mom. And you love your brother because he lets you boss him around a little bit but he still loves you back anyhow. I’m pretty sure that you love me, although I kind of feel like I have to do a lot more than the Mom or Ace does to actually prove it to you. Like… you know… shaving my head for a fundraiser, or staying up really late to write you a note to sing your “star of the week” praises.

Just kidding little girl. =) I know you love me because you tell me every day. Just like I tell you every day that I love you back. To quote from Hamilton, if that’s all that happened every day “that would be enough.” But the thing that brings me the most fulfillment as a parent is watching you “never be satisfied” with things being anything less than completely overjoyed at everything around you. You know that I’m “helpless” when you bat your eyes at me and ask for something outrageous. And you never “throw away your shot” at cheering someone up. And… “wait for it, wait for it….” that’s what I wanted people to know most about you on your star student special day.

I love you little girl. Keep filling others lives with the joy in your heart. It’s your greatest gift and one which I hope you’ll never take for granted.