Another year has gone by and my little doll of a daughter has now turned three! Gosh, it feels like only yesterday when I first brought her home, all bundled up and so incredibly delicate. Who knew my beautiful Zohal — my daughter, my beloved offspring — would grow up into such an intelligent, ridiculously smart, and independent little girl? And, of course, as usual, I will continue writing letters to her on her birthday each year, until the day I die, so that she can read about how much she’s grown, how much she’s learned, and the incredible milestones she’s managed to reach well ahead of her time. I also want her to know the beautiful impact she’s had on not only my life, but on the lives of those around her, and who love her more than life itself.
So, my dear, sweet little Zolie molie, if you are finally getting around to reading this, this is my letter to you on your third birthday <3:
My dearest, beloved Zohal, aka Zogie Bear, aka Zohalie, aka Zolie Molie, aka Parsu babes aka Che che cheenu aka warkotay guday (little doll)..okay, okay, I’ll stop with the nicknames, but just so you know, by the time you learn how to read, I’ll probably have 100+ more adorable nicknames for you❤
Anyway, zama da stargo ranRa (Light of my eyes), I realize this letter is a few days late, but that’s because we were busy celebrating YOU these past couple of days, and what a beautiful gift your birth has been. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank nature and the brilliant universe for giving birth to you; your existence has brought so much joy and euphoria into our lives that I often wonder what was life before you even came into the picture.
From the day you were born, up until now, we’ve watched you grow, day after day, into the beautiful, super intelligent three-year-old that you are now. And I am not being biased by saying this (okay, maybe I am, but, like, just a tad, ‘k?), just because I happen to be so darn lucky that you are my flesh and blood, but I’ve seen kids your age — heck, I, too, was your age once — but no child, not even the old little me, can come close to your sharpness and that brilliant, uber curious mind of yours. Each day is a pleasant surprise. You’ll say or do something that will take us all totally and completely off guard. And then I’ll just watch you, with an extremely proud smile on my face, thinking I must have done something incredibly amazing in my past lifetimes to have birthed a daughter like you. Everything about you spells perfection. I love how inquisitive you are. I love how you much you care about everyone. While not necessarily a people pleaser (which is a very good thing, please don’t ever change!), you make sure not to deliberately hurt anyone’s feelings on purpose. You’ve learned how to say “thank you” and “sorry.” In English. And most importantly of all, you’ve learned how to converse fluently in Pashto.
I have to admit, I was a tad worried when by around two, you barely talked. I, of course, didn’t realize that by two and half, or so, you’d be speaking like a pro! I remember when you first started daycare, about a year or so ago, one of the first things one of your daycare teachers noticed was that you didn’t speak, understand, nor respond to her when she would talk to you (in English, of course). The teacher then voiced this concern to me as I arrived to pick you up from the daycare.
“Zohal doesn’t really talk nor respond to me when I ask her to do something. She also doesn’t say a lot of words. It is concerning, because by her age, children should be able to say up to 20 words.”
Upon hearing that, I smiled. I smiled because you spoke more — far more — than 20 words. But that was all in Pashto. And I told your teacher exactly that.
“I realize your concern, but Zohal does actually talk a lot, and she knows more than 30 words…except, they are all in Pashto,” I replied. By this time, you had seen me, and dropping the puzzles you were playing with, you quickly squealed, “mogey!” (baby word for the word morey, which means mommy in the Pashto language), and ran towards me, wrapping your darling arms around my neck tightly.
I absolutely love that you speak Pashto so well (probably even better than me), and it doesn’t faze me at all that you don’t know a word of English yet; well, except for a few common words here and there. But, the fact that you converse only in Pashto makes my heart soar. I know that in time you will learn English, and you will speak it (and, of course, write it) beautifully. But, I also know that you will never forget Pashto — your beautiful mother tongue. Not only will you speak it fluently, but you will also write and read it perfectly too. You will become a part of a generation that will revive Pashto, and salvage it from its near demise. And if you ever, ever, speak to me in English, I will respond to you in Pashto. I will make sure you never shy away or feel ashamed speaking Pashto in public, or even around your “cool” only English-speaking friends. While I deeply love and value English, I will not allow you to neglect a part of you that defines your essence, your identity, and your ethnic being. You, my dear Zohal — my brilliant, shining Saturn’s moon — are a Pukhtana, through and through, and you will make not only your parents/family proud, but Pashtuns all over. Mark my words, my love. You have an extremely bright future in store, and I know you will be the change that my people — our people, and most importantly, our women — have been seeking.
Besides speaking fluent Pashto, you’ve also taken a huge interest in puzzles. You love them so much that each time we’d go to the toy store, you’d make a beeline for them and ask me to buy you a couple of them or so. And I always oblige, because I see how much you enjoy playing and sorting them, and how they keep you busy for hours. You’ve also started to show a little interest in dolls, well baby dolls mostly, and while I admit I was a little disappointed at first, because I personally am not a fan of them and I’d rather you not play with them, I now realize that you became interested in them mostly because they remind you of your baby brother.
Ah, yes, your baby brother! This is the year that you also realized that you probably won’t be the centre of attention anymore, because suddenly there was another little human being in the house — a tiny little baby that you clearly didn’t warm up to for the longest time. And I understand why you felt this way, zama gulay. Ever since your were born, up until the birth of your baby brother, the world completely revolved around you. But, I want you to know that that hasn’t changed, and will never change. You may feel like your baby brother has stolen your spotlight, your thunder, and your life, but you need to know that as much as I adore your brother, I don’t adore you any less. You are my first child, my perfect little daughter. No child or baby will ever take your place.
I know there are times when you still get angry at your brother, especially when I have to feed him, because you feel threatened or perhaps even neglected, but you should know that I will never neglect you. Ever. As a matter of fact, it is your brother who sadly gets the least attention in the house, because everyone is afraid of how upset it will make you, if we keep holding him and playing with him. And he’s now at that age when all he wants to do is play. I see you making the effort to bond with him, and perhaps even accept him as a part of our family now, but you still go through your occasional moods when you feel like hurting him. And that makes me sad. But, I know it is only a phase, and that in time you will realize your value and worth in the house, and how much we all adore you. I also know that some day, you and your brother will be BFFs — you two will be so close that all this will be nothing but a hilarious memory❤ So, I will wait until that day arrives. Though, I know you do actually love your brother, even now. When you’re in one of your best moods, I see how you try to grab him and plant kisses on his cute, round face, and even try to hug him quite a few times. It’s such an adorable sight. And I’ve taken lots of pictures to prove it.
I especially love how you try to mimick me, as I care for your baby brother. How many times have you brought a stuffed toy animal and placed it beside your baby brother, as I changed his diapers? You’d watch curiously, and then ask me to give you a “dipo” (baby talk for ‘diaper’), so that you, too, could put it on your doll or stuffed animal. And, of course, I’d melt. I’d melt a billion times over each time you did that. You even grabbed a piece of cloth to swaddle your stuffed toys, so that they’d look like your baby brother the first few weeks when I used to swaddle him all the time. I even took a picture of it (see below), so you can see just how ridiculously, endearingly adorable you are❤
This is the year you also became fully potty-trained. I admit, it was quite difficult in the beginning, as you cried a LOT, and probably felt weird without your diapers, but it wasn’t long that you managed to overcome your fears. So, what normally takes most people months, only took me a few days with you. Potty-training was a breeze with you — a piece of cake. The cutest bit is that now when I change your brother’s diapers, I see the disapproval on your face, as you say, “Baby dipo ke poopoo makawa. Potty ke okah!” ( rough translation: Baby should start going to the potty to do his dirty business). Ah, zama zaRgaye, I wish your brother would be potty-trained already! But, he’s still way too young, and he has at least a year until I, or maybe you, can teach him to go in the potty. Until then, you’ll have to get used to the icky diapers, my love. And your mommy will just have to suck it up for a little while longer.🙂
A few weeks ago, you also started pre-school, and I didn’t need to stick around and watch you transition. You loved being in school since day one. I see how much you have a passion for learning. And I’ve noticed how competitive you’ve become, but in a good way. You want to learn everything around you. You watch other kids do things, and try to do it better than them. You’re only three, but I already see a leader in you. You like to correct things. You like to show others how things should be done properly. You are shy at first, but it doesn’t take you long to show your bold colours.
You also love water parks. Oh, how much you LOVE playing in the water. Your darling daddy actually got you a fancy sprinkler, so that you could play in the water whenever you wanted to in our backyard. I haven’t taught you how to swim yet, but I can only imagine your reaction once the time comes for you to learn, in the very, very near future, ka khairey.
Zohal, my janaan, you never fail to leave me breathless every single day, either it’s through your words or through your actions. Never did I imagine that you’d become this incredibly independent and intelligent. I admit, there are times when you drive me up the wall — but that’s only because you are too smart, and it’s a known fact that children that are too intelligent for their ages get bored and frustrated quickly. And I understand, my heart. Even if there are times when it appears like I don’t understand you. It is a struggle, yes, because you are still so very young, and your vocabulary isn’t vast enough yet for you to explain to me how you are truly feeling. But, I am trying my best. Your daddy is trying his best. And so are your loving aunt, uncle, and grandparents. And you should know that we are absolutely, head over heels NUTS about you. You are our heartbeats. You are the oxygen that we breathe. You are the love of all our lives, and we will make sure to keep reminding you of this every single day of your life.
So, here’s wishing you a very, very, happy third birthday, da zRa sara! May you live a very long, extremely prosperous, healthy, and full life, filled with nothing but never-ending love, success and happiness. And may no harm ever come to you, though, even if it does come, I wish that you will have the strength and courage to very successfully overcome every single hardship or struggle that dares to come your way. You are a lioness, my love! The strongest and most beautiful piece of our hearts! And we all love you to Pluto and back times infinity.
I love you, Zohal, zama jaanu babes. So very, very, very much! You are the love and pride of my life! And I very much look forward to celebrating many, many more years of you and your brilliance!❤❤❤