Claire is a very sweet little girl, who is nearing her sixth birthday. I sure do love my grands and wish I could see them more often.
It was so nice to see you at the pizza place. You are growing into such a sweet little lady. I was so impressed with your good manners and quiet ways. I was a quiet little girl, too, except when I threw the occasional temper tantrum. I hope you don’t throw tantrums like I used to do. Tantrums are a hard to break, bad habit. In my family, people thought a bad temper was something you are born with and keep until you die. Lucky for Papa, Grandma Conrad didn’t go along with that idea. When he was five or six, he had a typical tantrum. Afterwards, Grandma Conrad said. “You know, Joey, everyone gets mad, but not everyone throws a tantrum. It’s a choice. You have to make up your mind if you are going to be ruled by your temper or if you are going to rule it.” That made a huge impression on him, and he quit having tantrums. I didn’t learn to stop the tantrum thing until I was a mommy.
I learned during Sunday School that we have free agency to control our emotions and behavior. Sure I had learned before about free agency before, but this teacher attached that idea to our behaviors and characteristics. I’m not sure how she said it, but she helped me understand for the first time in my life that my behavior was controlled by choice. It wasn’t controlled by something I was born with. It has been hard to retrain myself not to react with anger and rudeness. With Jesus’ help, I learned to choose just like the scriptures said I could.
I’ve been reading a lot lately. I’ve always loved to read, but somehow got out of the habit. I like stories very much. In addition to reading, I’ve been researching genealogy and discovered some interesting things. Several of my family lines and Grandma Conrad’s Mark line go back to European royalty. In my family, there is even a famous Native American chief, named Squirrel Chief King. Now that doesn’t make us more special than the next person. After all some of those people were not known as gentle, charitable rulers and were down right ruthless. However, I’m very curious to learn their stories as family members instead of some forgotten person in a history book.
I hope you are learning to read well. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to get the basics under the belt. If you are taking your time with this skill, don’t get discouraged. Many people were slow starters and became highly educated. I sent Cole a book about Ben Carson, who didn’t become a great reader until 5th grade. Likely, you aren’t having much trouble at all with such smart parents. Nevertheless, if it is hard, just be patient with yourself and keep moving forward with it. There is nothing quite as important to a good education and a rewarding life than great reading skills.
Because I know how important it is to gaining a love of reading, I started sending you all lots of books. When I was a little girl, my mother didn’t read to me. I had the three books: Rumplestiltskin, Snow White/Rose Red, and a book about animals. In first grade I learned to read easily but had no reason to pursue it. I didn’t know how fun getting lost in a long story could be. Later, when I was in 7th grade, some girls from orchestra befriended me. They were all in the gifted program, while my grades were only average. Adopting my parents’ apathy toward school, I just didn’t care. Anyway, they all read lots of books including The Hobbit. They talked me into reading The Hobbit, and I became hooked on reading. I hope you read The Hobbit some day; it’s so wonderful. After I got hooked on reading, my grades got much better. So…I guess you can see why I think reading is so important and why I send you so many books. I love learning new things and getting lost in stories.
I wonder what you are doing these days. Everything was so noisy and crazy at the pizza place that I didn't get a chance to ask you very many things. I wonder if you play sports or take dancing lessons or what sort of stories you enjoy. I wonder if you've begun piano lessons yet. I wonder if you love swimming or math or running or drawing or singing in Primary. Whatever you do, I'm sure you do it with all your might. There's no use doing something if you don't put your heart into it. You know I like to paint, play music, read, cook, clean my house, study the gospel, and walk in nature.
We've been attending church on the island, where we served our mission. If you remember, I taught Primary there in addition to my mission. The children in my class are a year older than you, and we became very close over the 17 months I taught their class. It was so fun to see them, just like it was fun to see you and your cousins at the pizza place. We can love people and stay in touch, even when we don't see each other very often.
Well, Claire, Papa and I love you very much. You look just like your mommy at age six, which makes you even that much more dear to us. We hope you choose to work hard in school even if something is a bit difficult or puzzling. We pray that you will have an innocent, healthy, happy, safe, scholarly, loyal, and gospel-strong childhood. Choose friends that help you choose the right, since a true friend would never ask you to do something naughty. Be kind and generous with your siblings, because they will be your true friends your whole life and throughout eternity. Be obedient and loving with your parents; it means so much to them when you do what you should. They love you so very much. Don't ever forget that they love you, we love you, Heavenly Father and Jesus love you, and all in your family love you. That's a lot of love.