Tallulah, you are eleven today.
Eleven years ago you entered the world with a face screwed up with rage and clenched fists, ready to fight.
You have scrapped and scraped your ways through every day since, roaring up a storm, putting yourself at the centre of a world you endeavoured, and endeavour, to bend to your very considerable will.
In those eleven years you have begun to learn that quietness is as great a tool as shouting from the roof tops, that using your voice to charm people with your singing can be more effective than excoriating them with your tongue. You have learned that smiling at people works better than frowning and sticking your lip out. You have learned that humour is cleverer than anger. You have begun to learn that if you move slightly off centre and give someone else their day in the sun, the world does not cease to turn, and sometimes it is quite nice to step back a little and take a break from being in charge. You have learned that a gentle hug is no bad thing, either to give or to receive, and that a word of kindness can do a world of good.
You have learned that the people who love you have always got your back, even when you’re being an idiot. And they don’t love you any the less for it, because we’ve all been idiots at one time or another. You have learned that belonging to your tribe can be a comfort and a strength on the days when you’re too tired to fight alone.
You have also learned that unleashing your considerable rage can actually be frightening, for yourself as well as everyone else, and that perhaps it doesn’t feel quite as productive now as it did when you were four and didn’t care two hoots what anyone thought, including yourself. You have learned that intolerance on your part breeds equal intolerance on the part of others, and an eye for an eye is not a terribly productive way of going about living your life. You have learned that a broken heart can mend, and broken friendships can heal, and the ones that stay broken were never any good in the first place.
You are growing up, and into your own skin. You are becoming yourself more and more every day, learning to accept who you are and enjoy the very best of yourself, and work on the very worst of yourself. You are becoming a young woman.
A young woman who reminds me so much of my young self it is sometimes painful, but I am pleased to see that you cope with being you way better than I ever coped with being me at your age.
You are a young woman who I am incredibly proud of, who is capable of moving me profoundly, and making me howl with laughter, who is capable of showing me things about myself and who (dammit) forces me time and time again to be more flexible, more generous, more thoughtful about the life I live and the things I do or say. You are incredible, Tallulah.
My curly haired warrior, I love you with the heat of a thousand suns.
Happy Birthday baby.