My precocious little sweetheart, Danika, turned 6 years old today. I remember six years ago being so happy and thankful that I now had a daughter. It did not take long for me to shift to being forever grateful and blessed that I now had Danika.
Danika is a strong-willed, confident and independent adventurer that has always been dripping with personality. I learned pretty quickly that looking after Danika during the day while I tried to work from home was going to be drastically different than it was looking after Everett.
I played often with Everett, but when I needed to get some writing done, I could put him in front of toys or books and trust he would be engaged for a little while. Danika would be engaged too but usually she was more interested in seeing how a book tasted or what kind of sounds a toy truck made smashed against a desk. If I got too immersed in my writing or if I dared to believe Danika was occupied enough for me to go outside to let the dogs do their business, then she always had surprises waiting for me.
Danika learned that shelves could work as ladders to get to the treats and candy that I thought were being stored out of her reach. Danika believed life is best when it was flavourful, so why not sprinkle the couch with sugar, cinnamon and salt. Danika believed beauty can be in all forms including being naked and covered in lipstick. I still don't know how she was able to do so much with her minute or two of freedom. You may also wonder how I never really learned my lesson.
Danika made sure that a day was never boring, and I was always alert. It made for some very busy days, but there is a part of me that must confess that I kind of miss them now that she goes to school.
I am happy that my child overflowing with attitude and toughness is my daughter, because this is a world that needs strong women. She has never shied away from telling me what she is thinking or challenging me on what I told her. If her brother tried to tease her too much then even when she was only three, she'd declare, 'That is it. I am going to hit you now.' and then do as advertised. She always loved to express her personality and that may mean an epic mural on a living room wall or a beautiful paint design lathered across her face or sometimes even some less mischievous creations in the form of Play-Doh or Lego.
Even though mischievous and precocious are apt words to describe her at times, another key word is 'caring.' She may be the first to drive me nuts, but she is also the first to come running to give me a hug.
She is also the only one who every day without fail will ask me, 'How was your day, daddy?' with her eyes penetrating right into my soul and heart thus declaring that she really wants to know. That simple question holds so much more meaning behind it and she is always saying so much more. She is telling me that while she was playing and having fun that she was still thinking about me. She is letting me know that she truly and deeply loves me. She wants me to know that if I was having a bad day that she was now here with a hug and a smile. If I was having a good day, she is here to celebrate with me.
Danika is a people person. Not just someone that likes to be with people, but she knows people. She has the magical powers to sense if you are having a bad day or if you're stressed. She knows how to make your life just a little bit kinder, gentler and happier. As tough and bold as she can be, she thrives on being compassionate and generous.
One of the biggest things Danika showcases is that she is as loving to strangers and new people as she is to her family and friends. For Danika, every person is a potential new best friend. She has enough warmth to share for everyone. There isn't a person who can pass her without hearing' hi' and if they engage, she is ready to share her world. It reminds me that love and kindness are not scarce items but things we should share abundantly.
On her sixth birthday, Danika is going to be getting some gifts. But she has been the gift that keeps on giving in my life. I have learned so much from her love for people and it has made me a better person. She has also constantly encouraged me, and I know she believes in me -- more than I believe in myself. I am very proud of the little lady she has become, and even though it is going to be a crazy ride, I look forward to seeing the woman she becomes.
Happy Birthday, Danika. Daddy loves you very much, Forever and always.