Today I am celebrating your 11th birthday though it has felt like you are well past that age for some time. You are pretty responsible for one so young and you generally take a lot of pride in doing the very best you can so it is easy for me to see you as older. It’s no wonder I am asked at regular intervals if you and E. are twins you behave much older… not to mention you are about a foot taller than the other children your age! For your sake I often have to look back at pictures of K. and E. to remind myself how young you actually are.
Sweet J. this summer.
Looking back at a picture from exactly one year ago I cannot fathom how much you have changed, grown and grown up.
J. at 10
You probably represent the best and worst of both Daddy and me. So often I will be watching you and see Daddy. You share the ability to be totally happy and cheerful about almost anything. You are both social creatures and in all honesty you do both like an audience! The worst of Daddy in you is that you tend to get lost in the fun- you just don’t know when to wind it down. However where Daddy’s lightheartedness has a tendency to miss when the laughter starts to feel at someone rather than with someone: you have a very careful emotional response to other people. You have a kind of 6th sense for how people feel and your empathetic nature makes you respond in kind. That’s the best of me in you. It is a great strength but I am afraid it is also a heavy burden at times: the best and worst of me in you.
Yellowstone: J. and M. play games with pebbles in the sand.
I want you to know this about yourself now because I think this is why you’re struggling to adjust to the social whirl of the classroom. You have a tendency to feel things too deeply. You take other people’s emotional swings into your soul and allow them to either lift you or bring you down. When I was working as a midwife in the UK and getting increasingly horribly stressed by the job and the NHS trust Daddy and I did our very best to shelter you all from the turmoil going on. K. and E. remained oblivious at the time but you- my darling- sunk into a little depression, became clingy and desperately worried about everything from me to school to getting to sleep at night. That was the event in 2009 that prompted us to take you out of school and homeschool instead.
This last six month back in public school has come with its own trials. You haven’t found it easy to take in stride the chaotic nature of the classroom or the political undercurrents of your classmates. You have come away feeling rather rejected and cannot explain why as you usually have someone to play with and have suffered no genuine negativity. I think- my love- that going to school just when girls are coming into the most spiteful age in their development may not have been the best timing but things will get easier. Through this year you will stop being the new girl and stop being the one tagging along with other people’s friends. Maybe Ek. or S. will turn out to be the friends you think they are, but even if they don’t rest assured you are a wonderful person to know- full of joy and laughter, kindness and generosity. Those other girls who have spent the last few years jockeying for top dog position just aren’t developed socially in the same way you are– give them a few years to mature before you judge them too harshly. Don’t let the confident happy girl you are be undermined by little girls who are still just little girls.
Maybe next year you will feel ready to invite a few friends over for a celebration. Until then don’t sweat it. Forget the discomfort of settling in and remember this year that every single person you celebrated your day with thinks you are something extraordinary!
Happy birthday beautiful girl.