Hello! This is your first entry; how exciting!
Silly me, an introduction is what I should’ve started with: hello, my name is Elli Grendale. I am 26 years old, and I have a beautiful daughter who is 4 years old. She is so smart; refuses to give up a book until she finishes it by herself, adores animals and learning about… well, practically everything! She simply soaks in information! She even chose this journal, probably drawn to the beautifully illustrated cover. I couldn’t ask for a better child to raise. Her name is Annika Kennith Grendale.
After having this journal for about a month, I wondered what use it should have. A new cooking book? My recipes are anything but unique, definitely not worthy enough to fill in hundreds of pages. Maybe if I was somewhat talented in art, I would draw some illustrations; my creative outlet, sadly, is not existent. After a bout of bitter thinking, a lightbulb went off; all the creativity was inside my young daughter, blessed with curiosity and joy of learning.
That’s why I have decided that every birthday, Annika should sit down and write in this journal about her year. Think of it as a tradition! I sincerely hope she enjoys pouring her soul into this booklet; I would love to read through it in a few years and see how she has grown and evolved throughout her lifetime.
My dear daughter, my beautiful angel; you have been given a gift. Whether it be from God, from the universe or from a genetic code perfectly crafted together. I cannot wait to grow with you, to learn from you and to live with you.
Happy birthday darling; until next year.
Hellooooo, my name is Annika I am 8 years old and today is my birthday!!! Yay!!!!! I’m really happy because all my freinds friends were invited to play like Ammy, Jesica, Lola, Daya, Thomas and Matthew. I helped mom prepare the pinata? (I dont know how to spell it) and she even let me go on the phone with the pizza man. He was very nice.
My mom told me to say what my favrite favourite stuff are sooo here they are. I like cats, fish, mouses, horses, birds and more. I don’t know why people like dogs because once a dog jumped on me and scratched me and it was very scary. I also like scool school. My favourite subjects are english, math, art and science. I like reading too because its like visiting a new world.
Mom is a really good mom. She brings boys over sometimes and they’re always super nice to me and sometimes they bring me gifts. But I hated one because he smelled weird like garbage. Mom is a good mom because she lets us eat pizza if its a holiday like Christmas or a birthday. We have a lot of pizza to eat tomorrow.
Thank you for the best birthday ever mom :)
Reading this passage warms my heart. Annika’s birthday party took place at the park near our apartment complex; it was such a pleasant gathering. All the adults had a nice conversation as the children ran after one another. Since Annika was the birthday girl, she made an entire game about saving magical creatures from evil humans. I was overjoyed watching her creativity run free as she led every single one of her magical and obedient friends to safety. The parents, including me, couldn’t help but laugh when Annika dramatically sacrificed herself for her friends; completed with a dramatic speech and a gaze turned towards the sky as she ‘passed away’. Granted, half her friends started bawling, so she had to be brought back to life by ‘magic’ (cake).
After she and I fixed up her passage in the journal, I let her shower and watched her read her mandatory book before bed. As I put it away, Annika spoke up with that questioning voice of hers.
“Mom, why don’t I have another mom or dad?”
I won’t lie; for a second, I was a bit shocked. I had to compose myself before turning around. Annika looked at me with those big green eyes, filled with questions and curiosity. She told me she simply wondered why everyone has two parents and she had one. I sat down next to her and told her that sometimes, a mom or dad can leave the family. Annika watched me, seriously nodding and soaking in everything I said.
“Does it bother you that it’s just us, sweetie?”
“No; you’re enough, mom.”
I made sure to shed the happy tears as soon as I was certain she was asleep. All that work, at least for now, has paid off. This birthday was truly an amazing one; I was able to watch Annika play with kids who loved and cared for her. Talking with the other, more experienced parents left me with new knowledge and contacts for sleepovers, babysitting, potlucks and more. They helped me pack everything up, gave their little tricks to preserve the leftovers longer and for once I was collectively praised for being a good mother.
Hello again; this is my sixth time (?) writing in this journal for the birthday tradition… thingy. I wanted to write it the morning after my birthday, because of the sleepover I had, so… yeah. Here I am. Mom made pancakes before leaving for the store, so I’m trying not to get the pages sticky with maple syrup.
Ummmm so last night I had a sleepover with three of my best friends; Lola, Jesica and Fiona. We watched a horror movie while eating SOOOOOO much candy, and then laughed a lot with a game of Mad Libs. My presents are very cool; I got a bunch of jewelry, some gift cards, a new mug and a paint set. But by far my favourite was my mom telling me we can redecorate MY ROOM! She saved up one thousand dollars, just for me! Its crazy; after she comes back from the grocery store we are definitely going online to get me new curtains; I want them to be green!
A few months ago something crazy happened. I was writing in my book during recess when a teacher told me I couldn’t have toys outside. I told her I was writing a story and let her read it. She read it and told me I was really good, which made me feel pretty good. Then she told me that there are writing competitions on the internet that (get this) PAY YOU IF YOU WIN!!! I was super excited and told mom all about it. She said that we can use her email and sign me up for some of the competitions that don’t look fake. Well I wrote some stories AND I GOT 100$!!!!! Mom and I were super excited! She told me that on the weekends, after I’m done all my homework, I can write more stories and see if I win. Its fair I guess, school is important.
Well, thats all for me. I think mom is coming back soon, so I’m gonna do the dishes and then log onto the online mall. See you in a year, journal!!!!!!
I will keep my passage short, as Annika squirms every time I hold the journal. She is maturing quickly, and developing skills that can impress anyone. Her teachers and I are considering sending her into eighth grade; she’s clearly ready for more challenging work. My little Anni is growing fast, and a bittersweet feeling joins my pride when thinking back on how much she’s matured.
One incident has convinced me she was not so much of a “little girl” anymore. Out of the many challenges we face as a duo, money is like a hovering bird of prey. So for Annika to switch her gaze from the new five hundred dollars in my bank account -the money she rightfully earned by herself- to my eyes and tell me it was mine to use was another confirmation that my beautiful daughter is also my best friend and guardian angel; all in one loveable, smart girl.
Well, here we are again. Same notebook, same time, though the pen is different. Mixing things up. You know, preventing insanity.
I don’t mind writing, I really don’t; and yes, upholding traditions is very important. But come on, the movie I’m going to starts in an hour and I still haven’t decided on an outfit. I’m sitting in my underwear mom; completing a family tradition in granny panties. I hope this is what you wanted.
Oh well; here’s my life story so far. High school is not at all like the movies. I used to be horrified; kids shoved into lockers, mouths looking like a metal trainwreck, popular girls wearing pink on Tuesdays and devil teachers. But really it’s made up of trying to figure if you’re having cramps or ate too much salsa, trying to figure out math and repeating to that one guy that no, you can’t say that word because it’s offensive. (But seriously, what is up with pasty white guys addicted to vapes desperately wanting to say the N word? Is it a right of passage that I’m not aware of?)
The hardest part of my year is balancing school work, people my age annoying the crap out of me and time to do stuff I like. It’s already hard enough, trying to figure out why Business class went from computers calculating data to making real mugs for your fake pottery business; why do I have to answer to girls asking me why I’m tan and my mom is white. “Why do you have green eyes?” I don’t know Mackenzee, why is your name so hard to spell? Just leave me alone and let me listen to my Hamilton playlist.
Wow. Sorry mom, you’re going to read that and roll your eyes to the back of your head. I know, it sounds boring and repetitive. But it’s true! Everyone at my school wants to poke into my private life as soon as I establish some sort of connection. I invite them over and all of a sudden they’re asking if I ever met my dad, and if we’re depending on my writing for money. Surprising how much information fake friends can spread before you confront them, huh?
Whatever; I don’t worry about it anymore, it’s in the past. I made a name for myself at that school, and I’ll continue to keep it up as that badass mixed chick who won’t take any crap from anyone and can rock textbooks like a new smartphone. Just watch me mom
Well, now I have twenty minutes to get dressed, so I guess you’re right; I’m gonna wear that new dress you got me. Let me put it on.
Well I’ll be darned; it fits perfectly. You really know me, haha! See you in two hours; thanks for everything over sixteen crazy years.
Dearest daughter of mine… my angel, my darling, my everything.
I wish I was a better mother, I truly do. I wish I could have made better decisions in my life, found a suitable man to become a husband and father who would love and support you just as much as I do.
I wish I had finished school quicker, providing us with a stable environment from the very beginning. Working as a pharmacist is a rewarding job, but requires so many hours away from home. I always remembered that excited look turning into quiet disappointment every time I told you I’m dropping you off at your friends house for yet another sleepover.
I wish, I wish, I wish. So many things I would have changed, all but you my angel. You are the one thing out of my entire experience as a single mom that I would never change. Not a single thing.
I will try to be better, I promise. I’m sorry for all the hardships I put us through.
Mom, it’s okay. You’re doing better than any other parent out there, single or not. I love you, and I always will
Mom, honestly; you outdid yourself with this one. Sending this journal all the way to Vancouver through mail is insane, what were you thinking? You know how much mail is stolen daily?
I’m just pulling your leg; I enjoy this tradition, and being able to take a break from constantly typing is nice. I remember when I was younger, you would tell me all about the days before the paper ban; writing and drawing was as easy as taking your pencil and doodling on the side of your assignment. I don’t know if the strained eyes are from me staying up too late or from the amount of blue light the screens emit.
Oh, how can I complain; learning about natural resource management is like locking a child inside a playground with a bunch of hidden candy. Constantly running around and desperately trying to find more, more information and more reasons to love the career. Can you believe I’ll be working in Alaska? Alaska, the land of the moose? Northern lights illuminating the sky, rivers and lakes travelling the land and animals gladly roaming protected land. Just thinking about it all has me itching to sit down and write about the mysterious land, bringing readers along a path of mystery and excitement as they explore a land of ice and magic.
Thank you for supporting me the entire time I’m here; I would love to talk about the university, the scholarship privileges, my new friends and how well Vancouver has treated me… but all those new friends have invited me to a restaurant, all expenses paid, and how can I say no? So I’ll be heading off; Alex can’t stop bouncing around and demanding me when I’m done. They’re the best roommate ever, you’ll need to meet them sometime.
Until I’m in your arms again, Annika.
Hello my gorgeous Annika. This took so long to get back to me, I got nervous; imagine losing a 20 year tradition because the mail system is rustier than a garage-sale bike. I held this book so tightly on the way back home, you had no idea.
So… yes. Adan finally convinced me (along with your hundred texts) to move in with him. You should see the house, it's absolutely gorgeous. A small cabin a few minutes into some woods, everything is like a fully functioning cottage! Adam's daughter, Robin, is a very smart girl focused on making her own business; her curiosity reminds me of you.
I hope you can come visit soon darling, everything is so quaint and pretty; just like a fairy tale! I'm sure you will write chapters and chapters of wonderful stories as you listen to the sounds of wildlife outside your very window.
Well, that's all for me darling; maybe next time I send this journal, I'll use that new omni-drone service to deliver our tradition. Whatever it takes to feel close to you once more.
I am afraid this is the only place that will take in everything I have to say without interruption.
I have gone through many hardships in life; I have faced poverty, uncertainty, anxiety, a loss of close friends and family. Some I have faced by myself, others with my daughter. Sometimes, the challenges came from my daughter; friends suddenly disliking her, school overwhelming her mental health.
Her sudden appearance in my womb, however, takes the cake. It sparked a debate. My family the fire; raging, anger pushing the heat to burn me and their words, the black smoke, choking me. My carefully crafted life; school, friends, respect, my beautiful forest, set ablaze and destroyed. I stood amidst everything, watching, letting it burn me to a crisp and choke me with hate. My surroundings turned into ruins, all help gone, left with the blackened remains of my old life. Then I looked at my hands, gently cupped around my abdomen, and could only focus on the charred ground underneath me. If I looked up, I saw the burnt twigs that were once my graceful trees. I wanted to sob, scream, yell at the world and give up. I didn’t know what to do, I was stuck with a destroyed life and a wretched curse stuck inside me.
As I watched my daughter, collapsed on the floor and hysterically weeping whilst grabbing my shirt and pleading for forgiveness, all I could do was repeat that same vision of so many years ago. Staring down, only seeing a burnt forest floor. The anger. The tears. The regret.
She didn’t know how it happened. They were drunk, they used protection, they did everything right but everything went wrong. Alex was flabbergasted and Annika had been in a mental block ever since she realized what had happened.
Standing there, watching Annika cower at my feet, I had so many questions. Who was the father? Why were you drinking? How far are you? Did you even think?
How could you do this to me?
I gently took her hands, and bent down to her level. Her face was flushed, her eyes were unfocused and she was trembling. Her gaze never met mine as I watched her, trying to find the right words.
“What do you want to do sweetheart?”
We talked. She cried more, I yelled a bit, and during a long period of time we simply held each other. But we were going to figure this out. Together. I had my experience, and this was going to be hers; as short or long as she wanted it.
Annika Kennith Glendale; it will be alright. I love you.