Stay Six

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Happy birthday, son! Do you know what it means to be six? What it means to grow so old that the number of years you have been alive takes over an entire hand’s-worth of fingers and spills over onto another?

1) At six, you’re old enough to play tee ball, but you’re still young enough to enjoy the game for the sake of play, for the joy of running around in the sunshine in a t-shirt that matches your teammates, without feeling pressure to perform.

2) At six, you’re sophisticated enough to sit through and understand a full-length movie, an actual film with real actors and actresses, but you’re laid back enough to find entertainment in the simplest cartoon. A cat with a frontal lisp who wants (desperately) to catch a canary. A bucktooth sponge who flips burgers by day and then retires, in the evening, to his home inside a hollow piece of tropical fruit.

3) At six, you’re smart enough to read a book, to decode a word you’ve never-before encountered, but you’re in a place where the simple pleasure of being read to, of hearing a story as told by your mother or father, is equally engaging.

4) At six, you’re independent enough to handle many of your own needs, to buckle your own seat belt, fix a glass of water, but you’re humble enough to seek help from those whom you trust when the shelf is too high or the lid on the jar is a little too tight.

5) At six, you’re social enough to play alongside your sister and the neighborhood girls, to sing Taylor Swift songs with them or even man a Barbie, but you’re not so savvy that you feel the need to preen and posture. Or wear pants.

6) At six, you’re strong enough to hold back the tears when it serves you, when you want to save face or spare someone’s feelings, but you’re tenderhearted enough to let them flow, even publicly, when it is warranted.

Stay as you are, son. For all that you have yet to learn, you have happiness mastered. Regardless of how tall you may grow, how strong you may become, or how brightly your talents enable you to shine, you will never be too old to:

1) play for the love of the game and your teammates,

2) relax and enjoy a laugh,

3) listen to the stories of those you love,

4) ask for and accept help when you need it,

5) be a woman’s equal or

6) express your grief.

Be six. Stay six.

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