“Dad, am I pretty?”
“Yes. You are very pretty.”
“Dad, what does pretty mean?”
“Pretty means a lot of things. In fact, it means different things to different people. It is kind of hard to pin down to one thing.“
“How do you know I’m pretty?”
What I wanted to say:
Because I get to see you when you are kind, you take joy giving cupcakes to your classmates at school and share with them. Because your eyes widen and you smile when you see something you’ve never seen before. Because you simply stare in the distance when you are thinking about something. Because when you get excited to do something you fling your arms behind you as you run out of the room as if it will give you more speed. Because when I look into your eyes I see your mom, and I am reminded about how much we love each other. Because you climb on things you probably shouldn’t climb on like my back and yell "c’mon sparky!” which I know is the horse on Sheriff Callie’s Wild West.
You’re pretty when you ask questions about the world. You’re pretty when I answer, and then you ask another question. You’re pretty when I lose something and you say it’s ok, “we’ll get a new one.” You’re pretty when you squint to find the moon at twilight and watch it so it doesn’t move unexpectedly. You’re pretty when we go look for monsters together and you’re pretty when you scream that you’ve found one running after you. You’re pretty when I sing your bedtime song that I’ve sung since you were 1 day old and you gently caress my bald head and beard as I hold you horizontal in my arms. You’re pretty when you get excited that you did something without any help, exclaiming “I did it!” super proud for everyone to hear.
Your face is pretty when you kiss your little sister on the forehead. Your hands are pretty when they reach out to hold my finger when crossing the street, when they take things from your mind and put them on paper in doodles, and when they take your excitement and transform it into clapped sound. Your arms are pretty when you wrap them around your mom, when you wave them in the air while dancing, and when you lay your head on them while sleeping. Your legs are pretty when you run and turn and jump and run again. When you kick up in the air and stand on your tiptoes while dancing.
You are pretty because you are alive. You are pretty because you are curious. You are pretty because you take the good parts of the world, pull them in through your ears and eyes and mouth and body, and shout them back out to me in action and voice, in everything you do. You’re the prettiest person I know.
What I actually said:
“I just know.”
“Oh! OK! Thanks daddy!“
Then you ran off, arms behind you, feet beneath you, eyes open, too young to be worried about pretty, but pretty all the same. So, very pretty.
Happy birthday Addie.