Dear Ava Shay,
For five years now we’ve woken up every morning and asked ourselves, “What shall we do today?” Then we’ve done it. We’ve gone to the gym, park, beach, library, mall, zoo or the splash pad. We’ve had 3,453 play dates. Some days we didn’t do anything, but boy did I hear about it; so it wasn’t often.
You have a big battery that doesn’t seem to run out. Ever. My best friend once called you “extra.” One of dad’s friends once said, “Ava’s awesome but is she ever just… I don’t know, kind of a lot for you?” I got up and hugged him. “Yes, yes she is. Thank you for noticing.” I thought I was an extrovert, until I met you. You’re extra and you’re a lot. It’s the most amazing and at the same time, the most challenging thing about you.
I’m sad that the days of waking up every morning and asking ourselves, “What shall we do today?” and then doing it are over; but I think structure will be good for you and for us. There are so many things I’m excited about for you: friends, teachers, music, art, Spanish, computers and learning to read.
Some advice as you skip off to kinder, your backpack bigger than you:
::Become a lifelong learner. School teaches you how to learn and you’ll need to do that for the rest of your life. Reading is a great way to learn. Oh, the day you’re reading to me. I’m pretty sure I’ll cry. We’ve logged in so many hours reading. It’s one thing I’ve done right as a parent. Books have changed my life a hundred times and taken me to places I’d never be able to go. Read Little Girl, then read some more.
::Choose your friends wisely. Being popular and hanging out with the cool kids is fun, I’m not denying that, but look for depth in your girlfriends. There are fun AND deep girls to choose as friends, you just have to look hard for them. Friends can make or break us at any age. Proverbs 13:20 says, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Word.
::Befriend the friendless. Look for those on the fringe and then HANG OUT WITH THEM. They want what we all want: to belong. Give them that gift. You’re a wild extrovert, you make friends with the cashier at the grocery store. You have the key to a social world that others will long to get into. Take their hands and lead them into the room. Don’t worry about what your current friends will think if you invite these new friends along; if you’ve chosen well, they’ll be welcoming. If they aren’t, get new friends. How about this one whose hand you’re holding? She seems nice. There’s room for all of us. Don’t forget that.
::Stand up for what’s right. Remember when you were bullied at that birthday party last weekend? Remember when the girls turned on you, ganged up on you and were chasing you around saying your leotard was too small and that you looked silly? Now remember that girl who refused to join them? The one who stood up for you? She told them to stop and that she thought you looked great. Be that girl!
::Try your best…then relax. You have a streak of perfectionism in you, Sweet Daughter. I do too and it hasn’t served me well.
You can’t be amazing at all the things. Forget about strengthening your weaknesses, play to your strengths. Once you know what you’re naturally good at, hone those skills. Kill it in those areas and simply get by in the others.
::God’s ways work. Know His commands and obey them. Isaiah 48:18 says, “If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” Yielding to God’s authority is the key to peace. You want that peace like a great river, trust me, you do.
Baby, please don’t confuse peace with boring. This life with God is anything but boring. The world will tell you it has so much for you. It does not. There’s nothing more exciting than a life with God. This is my prayer for you: that you would know Him and make Him known.
This post originally appeared at KellyShayRussell.com.