Dear Embla and Olympia,
Five years old!
I can hardly believe that it has been half a decade since we welcomed you into the world. And yet you seem particularly grown-up these days; brimming with a quiet confidence, a sense of comfort and belonging. You are schoolgirls now. You have a routine that is quite separate from ours, friends whose names we don’t know, relationships with other adults quite uncultivated by us. You wear a uniform, observe rules, read books and come home singing songs that we have never heard before. Your teachers tell me that you are well-mannered and kind.
Embla, you are one of the smallest children in your class. You are quiet, attentive and rather shy, eager to please. You are also tremendously self-aware and capable of using your smallness, your sweetness, to charm adults around your little finger. You have a filthy sense of humour and, at home, a piercing shriek, ear-splitting wail and a note of command to your voice that often stops the boys in their tracks. You are your toddler sister’s best friend and you are quiety, intuitively, kind and generous.
Olympia, you remain my wildling. You want to be an artist when you grow up, like your grandma. You can’t walk past a dog without asking whether you may stroke it, and you are quite desperate for a pet cat. Polly, you have introduced every snail in the garden to each other; you adopt woodlice and millipedes for your friends. School this year has been tricky for you – you want to please your teachers so badly and you are desperate for friends, but you struggle to sit still and you have a habit of bouncing on other childen that I expect they find quite disconcerting. You have an enormous heart, and we are working on strategies to help you to find enough calm for your friends to discover it.
Outside of school, you are the middle children – the smallest of the big kids, the biggest of the little kids. You are hardy little girls, adventurers; you keep up with your older brothers: scrambling over rocks, climbing trees, scooting and cycling and plodding, exhaustedly, in their wake, even after bedtime. Embla, you remain my mermaid, my water child – you are the first in and the last out of the sea, delighting in its turbulance. Olympia, this year you have developed a tolerance – even a curiosity – for the sea, on warm days you venture in knee-deep, and you are smiling, before retreating to chase the seagulls or adopt a rock for a pet.
Five is such an exciting age! You have just started riding ponies – Embla, you are quietly, fiercely passionate about riding, your green-gold eyes sparkle when you refer to the pony that you describe as ‘my horse’, the smallest on the yard, a little red hippo of a pony peering from a flaxen mane. Olympia, when you ride all I can hear is your laughter; they have the measure of you already and give you the fidgety, whizzy little creatures, the ponies who cannot stand still. There is something magical about sharing this love with my daughters. We are starting to adventure again and in a few weeks’ time I am taking you and your older brothers to Edinburgh all by myself, a journey that you absolutely would not have been ready for when you were only four. I’m so excited for what the future holds and it is such a privilege to get to know these new, older versions of you.
Needless to say, I am so proud of you both and I love you so very much.