Dear Persephone,


Our very strongest best wishes to you on this your tenth birthday- the first of double digits!

I have begun this annual birthday letter to you quite a few times now.  I want to get it right, by which I mean I want to be sure I express to you how much you are loved and valued and cared for, and how so very, very proud I am of you.  (The consequence being I am pretty late from your actual birthday date.)

Your ninth birthday passed half a world away.  Since that time, you’ve travelled over that half world, flying way above the North American continent and across the Pacific Ocean, landing back in Oz to the home and life you left a third of your lifetime ago.  I remember you were worried that no-one from school would remember you.  A day later we spent a few hours at our local playground and park.  Oh my, not only were you remembered, you were feted!

Returning to Oyster Bay Public School in year four was a challenge on a few fronts which you have met with aplomb and success.  You were last at this school for kindergarten, and the mis-match between north and south hemisphere school years meant that you missed the last third of year three and the first term of year four.  Nevertheless, with good application and positive instruction from Mrs Cuthbertson you have made up the difference in missed time and different methods and curriculum.  Your concern about having no-one remember you and having to make brand new friends again proved short-lived.  You were very much welcomed and made much of for at least a few months, before the novelty wore off.  In this time you also met and have become fast friends with Zoe, another new girl, also from North America.

I know you have struggled at times with the irritating behaviour of some classmates and kids at before and after school care.  I know, too, that my response hasn’t always been what you sought, or the most helpful.  I can only say that I really do feel your distress and frustration; I will do what I can.  Remember though, sometimes in your years you will come across a person or two who just doesn’t get it.  Who doesn’t realise that what they do and say is hurtful or wrong, or just plain stupid.  Once you’ve exhausted every other option I still think a sharp right jab to the nose may finally get your message across (you do have a wicked punch!)

Your tenth year has seen some other significant gains and lessons.  After wondering if baseball was much of a sport in Australia we found it certainly is around our neck of the woods.  You played with accolades for the Jannali Comets.  Your bike riding has improved immensely as has your swimming.  You’ve taken a cloth bag and our cash to our local shops alone or in company with Tally and returned with the grocery list fulfilled, sometimes even with change! You are halfway through reading the Harry Potter series, for the second time.  You read a lot.  Just recently you asked me if I had any Austen you could read, and complained that there’s only one book remaining on your bookshelves that you haven’t read.  I invite you to read anything on any shelf about the house.

The house has gotten yet smaller. It was small to begin with, but with the back couple of metres being demolished we’ve had to squeeze into yet less space.  I appreciate your good grace in sharing the space with us and particularly with Tally.  The patio is not really free for play and the front yard isn’t the size you had in our rented yards in Canada.  Just a few more months, darling, we’ll have more space than we’ll know what to do with!  For the first time in your life you’ll have a bedroom of your own.  I hope you don’t freak out!  Just joking, I’m sure you’ll love it and love making the space uniquely yours.

I thank you for adapting to having two parents working full-time.  It hasn’t been easy for any of us.  You are learning and growing more independent.  You don’t particularly like being called on to make more decisions for yourself, or to take more responsibility, but you’re coming around to it and trust me, you’ll appreciate it as the years go by.  You being trustworthy equals you being more free from parental supervision and interference!

I have loved watching you grow this past year.  It’s a true joy to see your imagination at play; the concoctions that go on in your brain and in all the bowls and ingredients you’ve nicked from the kitchen and bathroom and mixed to a wonderful mess outside. The stories you write with ink and feather quill.  You still fight with Tally (that’ll be a lifelong thing, eh?) but you also hug him and hold him and read to him and play so nicely with him.  I can tell, really truly, you love him.  Sometimes you’d scoff, but I can tell, really truly, he loves you too.

You’re up to my shoulder now, you can wear granma’s shoes, you use pappa’s camel hydration pack when cycling, you can walk the dogs yourself.  This past summer you revelled in the Australian surf and tanned a deep nut brown while your hair turned more and more golden.

You are my golden child.  You are light, laughter and perfection.  I can scarcely believe a decade has gone by since you came quietly into the world and changed mine forever.  I love you my golden, free-flying girl.  Supporting you as your spread your wings in the next decade, and all the ones after that, will be my greatest happiness.  Let’s see where those wings can take you…