Dear Kate,

Eleven years is a long time, but not really for a kid. Even though you’ve outlived every goldfish, gerbil, hamster, flea, spider and most other insects, flowers and animals that were born the same day as you; eleven years ago you went from being young to being young, whereas I went from being young to being old. So Kate the next time you wait anxiously for adulthood, remember that time is measured differently for goldfish, kids and moms.

I’ve learned a lot over the last eleven years, like how much fun can be extracted from tiny, lifelike animal figurines; or that the smartest purchase I will ever make was that first two-pack of Pet Shops. You’ve revealed to me what a boundless imagination really is, and that there is magic in anything done with sincerity. And even though eleven years is a long in the life a goldfish and a mom and it isn’t for a kid, in that small stretch of time you have demonstrated more kindness, empathy and compassion than I have years left in my life to match. So perhaps the greatest lesson for me is that age simply measures how long it’s been since a person was born, not their capacity to think and feel deeply.

I love you when you yell at Simon for eating with his mouth open or for being annoying when we read at bedtime. I love you when you go upstairs to change for school and brush your teeth and I find you 30 minutes later lying in your bed, half-dressed, absorbed in a book. Each day, for 11 years, I’ve loved you a little bit more, because each day you smile and love and remind me how much be easier life is when it’s filled with kindness and a generous appreciation that time is what we make of it.

Happy 11th Birthday Skittles!

Then

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Now

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