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Dec. 25th, 2014

Dear Sophie,

You are four! And boy do you know it. You were waiting for this for months, and would tell anyone you met. Of course, now that the fourth birthday has come and gone you've skipped straight ahead to the anticipation of being...eight. Maybe you are destined to be a computer scientist after all.

Of course the month has its share of confusion along with the excitement - are we celebrating your birthday, or Christmas, or what? There was a strange alternation of your friend's birthday / the Christmas party at Daddy's office / a school visit from Samichlaus / your birthday party / your birthday celebration at school / the school advent concert / a long long wait to get on an AIRPLANE AEROPLANE (you do take after your daddy in vocabulary) / going to visit Grandma and Grandpa, and now tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and well, to sum up, you've been getting presents left and right. Let's just call it Sophiecember and be done with it.

So - another year on from when you turned three, and you've come such a very long way in growing into your delightful (usually) self. To be honest I've thought of you as being "basically four" ever since the tantrums stopped in August and you started your second year of school. You're doing great there, and I'm still amazed at how many kids, big as well as little, can greet you by name. At the beginning of the school year we were told that you were fairly averse to participating in any sort of group activity, that doing your own thing was basically a point of principle for you. Still, the other kids sort of like you, and lately we've been hearing about the fun you have with one or two of the other kids. You did learn an important lesson about group participation a couple of weeks ago, though. The afternoon activity was to make your own Grittibänz, but when it was the turn of your group you preferred to do your own thing, and couldn't be enticed to the kitchen with the others, no matter how much the staff tried. This wasn't really a problem until I arrived to take you home, and you realized that other kids were going home with a Grittibänz or two, and you had none! You were devastated by this really, lying on the floor sobbing. The day was saved when another girl agreed to share one of hers with you, so you got to go home with a Grittibänz after all, but I wonder if you still managed to learn the lesson because you've been a little less stubborn about staying apart, ever since.

It's a strange thing to write a letter to the four-year-old Sophie though. I know you better than anyone else on this planet (and that is pretty darn well, since you are known and loved by so many) and I hear I'm still your best friend (as reported by Grammy when you were visiting her in October), but I hardly know how to describe what you are like. Strong-willed like you've always been, getting the hang of coping when you don't get what you want, an extremely good memory (especially, but not only, for things you have been promised), very good at imitating those adult tones of encouragement, matter-of-factness, patronization, strictness, etc. that grown-ups use on you when you are talking to them, and able to absorb yourself in a game or an activity for a really long time when you feel like. Still, I have as little clue as I ever did about what sort of path your life might take - will you turn out to have the love of music that seemed such a foregone conclusion when you turned three, muted now but still sometimes evident? Will you become a devourer of books like your parents and some of your cousins? Will your love of 'Octonauts' keep you interested in sea creatures and things underwater? Will you keep having so much fun playing 'doctor' that you'll want someday to turn into one? Will your reasonably frequent insistence on dressing yourself mean that you have a sense of style before the age of 25 (unlike your mummy)? Or are all these things passing whims, and will you follow some path that we still can't see any inkling of? These sorts of questions make it hard for me to know what to say when people ask what you would like for your birthday. Or Christmas.

Then again, I can just tell them to get you more Lego, and then you can roll your eyes while your parents spend ever more of their waking hours playing with it.

Lots of love,

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