My dearest daughter, Susannah. Today, as you turn 4 years old, you received a special surprise gift, which I purchased at Target many weeks ago. I had gone there in search of a few silly items for you and your brother for Valentines’ Day. You’ll soon learn that a trip to Target always involves buying things you never knew you needed. On this particular day, I accidentally walked down the sporting goods aisle on my way to somewhere else. That’s when I saw it. A Huffy Minnie Mouse training wheels bicycle, with streamers and bell. It shone and shimmered on the shelf. It called out to me: “Buy me for Susannah!”
And so I did.
When I pulled my oversized cartload up to the cash register, I got several looks from other customers. I put the Minnie Mouse puzzle (for you) and the Mickey Mouse ball (for Simon) on the conveyor belt. She cashier smiled and pointed at the spanking new Minnie Mouse Bicycle with streamers and bell in the cart.
“Wow!” she exclaimed, “That bike is really amazing.”
“I wasn’t intending to buy a bike today,” I confessed, “But when I walked past it, I knew it was perfect for my daughter’s birthday next month. She loves Minnie Mouse more than anything.”
“Aww,” the cashier offered up. “I work at a daycare and we have this little girl who dresses like Minnie every single day. She has a little brother who dresses like Mickey a lot. They are the cutest.”
I stopped and looked at her. She looked at me.
“Wait,” I said, “What daycare do you work at”?
“Wait…” she said slowly, “Are you Susannah and Simon’s mom?”
You, my dear, have earned yourself quite a reputation for your pure unbridled love for Minnie Mouse. We who know you best know that your love for Minnie is uncontainable. You and your BFF Minnie stuffy are inseparable. Minnie is the 5th member of our family. When our church family put pictures of each church member in the empty pews at the beginning of the pandemic, they made sure to give Minnie her own picture – sitting in the pew right next to you. I don’t know if any person could love Minnie more than you. Yet until that moment in Target, I hadn’t realized that your reputation as Minnie’s biggest fan had spread far and wide. How many other Target customers know of the little girl who loves Minnie so much she dresses like her every day? Your love for Minnie Mouse is pure, unbridled and uncontainable.
As we celebrate your 4th birthday, we celebrate 4 years of your pure, unbridled, uncontainable joy and energy. From the very beginning, you have been all personality, all spirit, all joy. Your Daddy and I even dubbed you: “She who cannot be contained.”
You who cannot be contained were on the move from an early age. As an infant, you disliked anything that strapped you in or held you back. Bouncers, swings, play centers – they were not your jam. You who cannot be contained had a deep desire to move, see, and discover. At 4 months old, I left you on your play-mat, turned around, and couldn’t find you. You had rolled into the next room. At 6 months, you perfected the army crawl – pulling yourself forward with your left arm, while carrying items with your right.
Most children learn to sit before crawling, but not our Susannah. You were not (nor have you ever been) interested in sitting. Why sit in one place when there are so many places to go and people to see? You who cannot be contained learned to sit precisely 1 week before you stood. Why sit when you can crawl? Why crawl when you can stand? Why stand when you can walk? Why walk when you can run? You took your first steps a week before your first birthday. It might’ve been the last time you walked. You’ve been running ever since.
Slowing down and resting is your least preferred thing. You also earned yourself quite a reputation as the girl who wouldn’t sleep. Why nap when there is an entire world to explore? Luckily for Daddy and I, you have slept through the night since you were 3 months old. But napping? You have fought a nap every single day of your precious life (to your daycare teachers: we apologize, we tried our best). For she who cannot be contained does not like be constrained to sleep.
You were 20 months old when you jumped – nay leaped – out of your crib. BAM! You terrified Daddy and I, but the bump did not deter you. Instead, when I placed you back in the crib, you proclaimed: “Mommy, I jump!” That was the last night that the crib would contain you – you have slept in a big girl bed ever since (except for that month when you would only sleep on the floor, but that is a story for another day). I do take comfort in the fact that you have now, 2 years later, developed a healthy sense of fear. The other morning, you climbed into your brother’s crib to read him a book. When you were finished, you called out to me, “Mommy, I’m stuck in Simon’s crib!” You were “stuck” in the same crib you once leapt from, because you’ve learned a respectful fear of getting hurt. You are growing up.
You are learning to harness your uncontainable energy. For you now love to sit and allow your spirit to run free in imagination. You paint pictures, build buildings, piece puzzles, create worlds, and play games. You and Minnie read books, play “Minnie’s bow-tique”, go on adventures, and do science together. While your spirit cannot be contained, you love containers – putting and placing and measuring and creating experiments. While, your spirit cannot be contained, your mind is a container for memories that even Daddy and I have long forgotten. As we say: “Susannahs never forget.” You are a loving and caring big sister. You are a kind and thoughtful friend. You are hilarious and a dramatic storyteller. You are wise beyond your years. You are intelligent and insightful with an impressive vocabulary. You are independent and opinionated, and I have no doubt that you will one day change the world. You are, as you say, “a fashion,” wearing dresses every single day. You are hopeful in all the things we will do when “coronavirus is over.” You are faithful, praying to God, asking questions about Jesus, and loving your church family fiercely. You have taught me more than I ever thought I could know. My love for you cannot be contained.
And so, my Susannah, she who cannot be contained, I pray that you may always be as fierce and as bold as you are at 4 years old. I pray that as you learn to harness your energy that you may never let it be contained. I hope that you who cannot be contained will always have a deep desire to move and see and discover and create.
This weekend, we finally gave you that Minnie Mouse Bike with Streamers and Bell. We went outside, strapped on your new helmet, and you were off to the races once more. You fell a few times, but each time you picked yourself up and got back on. 10 minutes of practice and you who cannot be contained were pedaling so fast down the street, you had us chasing after you! O the places you’ll zoom on that bike!
The theme of your nursery (and now in your big girl room) is “O the Places You’ll Go”. Dr. Seuss tells you: “Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to great places! You’re off and away! You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” My dear girl, as you zoom off to all the places you’ll go, just remember to slow up a bit … for mama is trying to keep up.