Erinn Sarah Rose – Today you turn 8.

In so many ways, you have been the child who has turned my world, and my opinions, upside down. You were baby #4 in our combined family and quickly showed us that what works for one child (or three children) does not necessarily work for the fourth.

You were a loud baby — a high needs baby — who demanded the attention of your parents, your siblings and anyone else who happened to be in the room. Within the first year of your life, you changed my parenting opinions on everything from babywearing to sleep training (yes on the first, gentle methods on the second).

When you were nearly 2 years old, I sought out early intervention for the first time for your speech delay. You waited to reach milestones — talking, walking, potty-training — but as soon as you decided to make them happen, they stuck.

While your older two sisters have always been relatively neutral when it comes to what toys they enjoy, and what characters they connect with, you have always followed more of a traditionally accepted mold of “girly” things. Even at age 8, you sleep with your head on a giant rainbow unicorn, clutching a hot pink Teddy bear in a cheerleading uniform.

You learned how to sing “Let It Go” from Frozen before you could speak a sentence normally. You went through a phase when you woke up each morning and put on a costume mermaid tale, casually hopping to the breakfast table as if nothing was unusual about your attire.

Without explanation, you’ll arrive at the dinner table in hot pink lipstick and metallic eye shadow. You’re the only other family member who completely understands why I love Britney Spears and you sing/dance with all your might when her songs stream through the house.

I once asked you to get ready to leave for a hockey match we were attending as a family and you walked out the front door wearing a glittery pink crown, a floral dress and leggings, beaded bracelets and necklaces and shiny knee socks. On numerous occasions at the hockey game people asked you “Oh, is it your birthday?” and you answered plainly, matter-of-factly, “No.” You have never needed a reason to wear what you want or to dress up.

People would be foolish to think that your appearance sums up your personality, though. You may prefer a stereotypically softer look — but your attitude is intense, determined and driven by an almost-ruthless competitiveness.

You run and climb with a strength that certainly surpasses any of your siblings at your age (including your brother). You recently impressed a retired Navy veteran at the park with your chin pull-ups. You’re a dedicated student at school and engaged actor in theater classes. You don’t do anything without complete commitment.

Your personality has shown your dad and I that the way we raise our children is more about allowing them to gravitate towards what makes them happy, and less about us trying to force neutral ground. You are happiest slaying every day in a dress, makeup and heels.

As you continue to transition from early childhood towards the ‘tween and teen years, my hope for you is that you take all of the confidence and self-assurance you have today along with you. Erinn, you naturally stand out — and then you do things that demand even more attention from the rest of the world. People are going to question, and even criticize, that trait throughout your life. My hope is that you remember whose opinion truly matters — your and yours alone — and continue to step into the greatness of your life.

Happy 8th birthday Er Bear. Thank you for being a reminder that everyone deserves glitter, glitz and glamour in their lives.

Category: Birthdays