Dear Maya,

10 years old. I’m not ready. Let me be the first to admit it; I am not ready. I thought I had more time….I thought the clock would move slower….I thought we’d ease into this moment. Instead, we rushed, we raced, time flew and here we are. 10 years old.

I don’t have a favorite child. I love all 4 equally, wouldn’t trade one for another and wouldn’t trade them collectively for anything in this world. I do however, have a child that is more naturally wired like me than the rest at this point in their lives. Unfortunately Lailah doesn’t get my influence enough cause she is 6 hours away. Tyler has more of his mother’s spirit and Kayden is the most naturally independent of the 4, she’s her own character and occasionally you see bits of her mother and me. But you Maya, you are me through and through.

imageParenting you is healing for me. It completes me. The more I grow as your father specifically, the more I fix chapters within my own life. I can be tough on you the way my father was tough on me. Not all the way identical because my father was doing what he had to do to prepare a young black male for this real world, while I am tasked with pouring love into my daughter. I am tough on you cause I want you to stand on your own two feet and know that you don’t have to be dependent on some hard head boy to make everything okay. That’s also why I am affectionate with you and your siblings. I want you to know and feel loved so you don’t go looking for it in the wrong places. I learned that from my dad too. My dad was an affectionate father. I’m 34 and I’m still not too grown for a hug and kiss on the side of the head from your granddad.

“Girl I’m in love with you, this ain’t the honeymoon….we’re past the infatuation phase”                   – John Legend, Ordinary People

Things are changing now. A couple nights ago you asked some pretty serious questions about religion and spirituality. Last week you asked me about relationships and why I’m not with your mom or anyone else in the traditional sense. A few weeks back you told me about wanting to talk to your mother about your “lady areas” and how things will change and develop in the next few years. I don’t know if I wondered about these topics when I was 10. I don’t feel old but I do acknowledge that we live in a different era and kids are more curious and have more access to mature information than ever before. It’s scary.

The most important thing for me is making sure I treat you in a way that you feel comfortable having me in your corner entering this next chapter of your life. Entering double digits and pre-teen years there’s going to be so much coming your way. I want to have imagethe door of communication between us open, I am terrified of being shut out. So many parents lose connection with their child(ren) during these years for one reason or another. I’ll admit that it scares me, but I am up for the task.

As for you, I don’t want you to rush to grow up. Be 10. Enjoy 10. Enjoy 4th grade. Finish this semester strong. Continue enjoying school, that’s one trait you carry from your mom. For me, school was one big talent show….where I went and performed my comedy routine and did just enough studying to keep your granddad’s belt around his own waist and off my behind. The fact that you truly enjoy being at school and get a kick out of bringing home good grades is a great feeling.

“Daddy you know we’re doing fractions in school right? Well I looked at all the Jordans in my closet versus the Jordans in  your closet and I have like 3/79ths the shoes you have. I don’t even think that’s a real fraction and if so it’s not a good one.”            – Maya Noelle Large

I guess I’ll adjust. Gone are the barrettes imageand bows, they’ve been replaced by trips to the salon. Gone are the sweet lip kisses. In your words.. “Daddy I’m 10 now, cheek only!” I even got a “Daddy get out of here” when I opened the bathroom door on you the other day looking for my deodorant. I used to just barge right in LOL.  But I know your still my baby cause the other night you saw I was having a moment so you gave me the biggest hug and kiss, climbed in the bed with me and said “I’m here daddy, I’m not going anywhere”.

Maybe we should take it slow.

Happy Birthday my love.