Dear Elisabeth (on your first day of Fourth Grade)…


My Elisabeth….

I see you, my strong-willed, hard-working, do-gooder daughter.

I see how you are the first one up. Your uniform is on before the sun is shining. Your bangs have comb marks in them.

I see you, doing your homework before we even pull in the driveway.  I see how you try so hard to do exactly what your teacher wants. I see your eraser smears on your math sheets, the ones you don’t want me to check anymore. I see your to-do list on the whiteboard by your desk.

I see you, my dear Elisabeth. I see the lunches you pack for your siblings and the muffins you bake for our family. I notice how you are so careful with both. Fresh fruit for everyone. Protein every day. Cold juice boxes.

I hear your instructions for your brothers. “Stop acting like a cool guy” and “Let’s go on an adventure!” I hear what you tell your sister. “Stop locking the bathroom door!” “Please let’s have a girls’ day.” I hear what you say to Daddy and to me. “You are chewing too loud” “I want time with just you” and “Friends are hard.”

Now that you’re ten, you and me are in a new part of our relationship. In the next few years you will become so grown up, more independent every day.

But even as you grow, you will need me to see you. More than ever, you need me to see you. Even when I will want to give you instructions and tell you the way I would do things, you need me to see you.

So many days, I won’t get this balance right. I will want to be the loudest voice in your ear–comb your hair like this, try doing your homework here, wear the clean uniform, pack this in the lunches. I want to give you all this advice, like pieces of really good chocolate that you’ll savor.

But this year, I’ll have to learn that my words don’t seem like chocolate. You probably won’t savor my advice.

Elisabeth, what I know you need from me right now is a witness. You’re showing us that you’re learning how to be the very best Fourth Grader you know how to be. And you need a cheerleader, a helper, a person who sees your hard work and tells you it’s good. Over and over that it’s good and that you are trying so hard, sweetheart.

So, I see you. And you will have a magnificent year. You will figure out the tempo of girlfriends, how often you need to go to your locker, how big sisters can be fun, (even when they’re bossy), and so are brothers (even when they want to be cool).

Dear Elisabeth, you are so committed, so dedicated to what’s best, and such a hard worker. Fourth grade will be a wonderful year.

And I will be here, cheering you on the whole way.

I love you,




  1. Annette HOrn says

    Oh, Tina, I love your kiddos so much. What an outstanding group!!!! I read Nate’s story earlier and now Elisabeth’s. What a treasure these posts will be for your children in the future. You are a gift to us; all your books; and your friendship with Amanda; and your kids friendships with our kids. I just can’t tell you what an outstanding mother you are. Your kiddos are most blessed

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