I got you a phone for your birthday. Your face when we went to get it—oh, how I hope you hold onto that face. Pure, unchecked joy! Skipping. How we did a little dance in the parking lot. The dance of the first phones. I smiled with you, squeezed your hand because you still hold my hand when we walk together. Squeeze squeeze squeeze, how many more times do I have before your hand swings aimlessly next to me, not even noticing mine? The phone an opening to a world beyond being my daughter. Why did I get you a phone?
I got you a phone for your birthday because you know more about the California Missionaries than I do, because you can play Yellow Submarine on the guitar, because you hesitate before dropping in at the skateboard ramp, that hesitation sometimes stretching into minutes, the fear clinging to your face like a new skin. You are kind to your friends. You are kind to your not friends. Your tender heart shatters me the way possibility only can.
I got you a phone because you wrote me an essay telling me why I should get you a phone. You said that it would make you safer, that you would text me when you got places, call me if you had any problems. You said that we could chat throughout the day. You said that all your friends are getting a phone, but that is not why I got you a phone.
After we got you your phone we went to the grocery store to get ingredients to make you a cake. After I parked, I called you from the front seat, and you answered from the back seat. Hello? Hi, it's me. Hi! Both of us talking excitedly, shyly even, as if we had never spoken to each other before, the two feet between us a chasm of new. Later still I sent you a text when you were just down the hall in your bedroom, both of us fumbling to read who we were in those expectant gray dots...
I got you a phone for your birthday because you are right, you don't deserve everything, none of us do. I certainly don't deserve you, my 10 year old everything who teaches me so much, my beautiful spirit of a girl with a mouth the smile of water. I got you a phone because I never want to stop listening to you.
Happy birthday sweet girl.