This won’t be the birthday anthem to my daughter that I really want it to be. It’d take a few hours of hard thought followed by a few hours of drafting followed by a few hours of editing to get anywhere close, and I just don’t have that kind of consecutive time right now. So here’s a quick, humble little ditty instead.

Let’s start with a brief retrospective. When I wrote the big birthday message last year, Lennie was just starting to communicate with intention (as opposed to simple labeling) by instructing me in simple terms (“there”) to take her to one spot or another in the room. Now she communicates rather more extensively by saying things like “Lennie no want brush teeth with green tooth brush” or “chocolate milk is so delicious.” She has probably dozens of repeated sentences now and clearly knows enough of a grammar to compose understandable new sentences, often surprising us with her ingenuity. I guess she must have been walking a year ago. Now she runs, slides, jumps, turns somersaults; this evening, I tried to entice her into her bedroom for a diaper change, and one or the other of us suggested hopping, and sure enough, she followed me hopping through the house to get a clean diaper. A year ago, we were in the habit of calling her “Lou.” It felt right at the time, but we’ve moved on to Lennie now. We’ll no doubt oscillate between the two in the coming years.

The thing M and I consistently and frequently find ourselves thinking about Lennie is how astoundingly happy we are that we got her. And not that we got a baby, but that we got the very baby we got. She’s so bright (I mean in terms of personality in addition to intellect) and special, and there’s never in recent months been a single day during which we haven’t been delighted by some phrase she’s come up with or some impish thing she’s done or face she’s made. At every stage in her life to date, we’ve thought back to how far she’s come, and it always seems impossible that she’s progressed so far, that she’s managed to become so much more special than she had been the last time we checked. And yet she has. More and more, I find that I enjoy her not as my offspring, and not because I’m in some way bound to, but because she’s this objectively wonderful little person all by herself.

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