Watching Her Become

We’ve been excited about tomorrow for MONTHS.  And now, it’s finally here.

Our Princess’ 11th birthday.

Standing on the precipice of growing up and staying small, of childhood and adulthood, of elementary school and middle, of little girl and young woman, of joy-filled wonder and emotional angst, she is a sister and friend and daughter and student and swimmer and dancer and gymnast and pianist and scooter rider and ball tosser and bicyclist and laugher at jokes and unloader of dishwasher and our imagination-run-wild gift from God.

She is.  A blessing.

Born in Japan, she surprised us two weeks early.  I barely had my bag packed, but it was enough so that I was able to grab it and drive myself and Aub to the hospital when my water broke.  The funny thing is I felt no fear.  Each morning when I changed her diaper in those early months, I would say out loud to her, with her: “Thank you, God, for another day.”  And we would laugh together.

Her name is an old English name meaning joy or happiness.  Spelled differently, it’s also the middle name of one of my favorite cousins.  She carries her name well.  For the most part, she is a loving and affectionate child who loves hugs and laughter and games and being with people she loves.  And Minecraft.  How she loves Minecraft.  Other times, when she’s not so loving, well, she’s a Scorpio.  Watch out for that.  When her voice deepens (and it’s laughable if it’s not your name she’s saying), someone is in deep trouble.  And she knows how to let loose and do some correcting.

We recently saw an old video of her and Cooter on his first birthday.  We were all encouraging him to dig into his little mini-cake.  She was bouncing around talking about cake and wanting some, but when he went for it, and we all got excited, her voice deepened, and she immediately started reprimanding him in her three-year old voice: “Cooter, no!  Do not do that.  Mama, he is making a mess!”

And so it is.  To this day.  She’s his best friend and his third Mama all rolled into one.

She has her own sense of style and is unapologetic as she somehow pulls off the oddest of combinations.  I’m envious and a little bit in awe of that.  She has a very strong sense of justice.  Don’t let that sweet face and smile and twinkling eyes fool you.  Say something to her that lets her know you don’t see women as equally capable of living life, and she will. LET. LOOSE.  All the madness.  I do hope she will see a competent woman President in her lifetime, because as we are studying government and elections, she is about to lose her mind over this issue.  She is constantly checking with me to make sure no one is leaving any other group out.  When she senses injustice, something she just cannot fathom, it upsets our whole home because she carries it with her constantly.

Tonight I’m thankful for this next chapter in our girl’s story.  What a beautiful unfolding of her soul we get to see.  The one who came into this world loving pink and dresses and dancing and playing dressup is growing into someone who still loves those things but also loves jeans and hoodies and blue and purple and dressing up as real people who have made a difference in this world.  She talks about traveling and being in the Olympics or coaching or teaching or being a Mama or all of these things.  Our girl already knows where she is going to college and is ready for me to make a room deposit for her at the “Oldest and the Best,” where her Maemae, her sister, and I all learned.  She dreams of a day when race and gender don’t matter, that a good heart is seen only for that, and of the day when food allergies will be cured.  She loves biographies and Harry Potter and books about fairies, and each night when I sit in the quiet house, I hear a creak that means she’s gone into the library searching out another book to help her fall asleep.  She is a beautiful, unique soul whom I get to love and learn from up close and personal.

And for that I am most thankful.

Happy birthday, baby girl!  May it be the best one ever. yet. always.  Love you mostest.

Love to all.

Just for fun, a sample of the art in our birthday girl’s room, which shows her beautiful and complex spirit.  

Her spirit flies and soars and fills our home with love and laughter and a lot of wonder.
Her spirit flies and soars and fills our home with love and laughter and a lot of wonder.
A Christmas gift from her big sister last year I think.  She loved it, because Disney and all those movies--her FAVORITES.
A Christmas gift from her big sister last year I think. She loved it, because Disney and all those movies–her FAVORITES.
A gift from our cousin who shared a birthday with our Princess.  She actually wanted our girl to be born on her birthday.  And so it was.
A gift from our cousin who shared a birthday with our Princess. She actually wanted our girl to be born on her birthday. And so it was.
A gift from the brush of her big sister, with whom she shares a love of all things Potter.
A gift from the brush of her big sister, with whom she shares a love of all things Potter.
This year's gift from her big sister, just given early tonight by her "returning to college" sister.  This one melts MY heart.
This year’s gift from her big sister, just given early tonight by her “returning to college” sister. This one melts MY heart.
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