... Until you are officially a teenager. I cannot wrap my brain around that. I just can't. And still, it's true. Because tomorrow is your 12th birthday. Happy Birthday, little girl!
Or... not so little girl. Yes, you're still smallish in stature compared to your average female classmate (you're not quite but very nearly almost my height now, just under 5 ft even), but you've grown so much, mentally and socially - especially within the last 2 months or so. In fact, Daddy and I were talking just a couple weeks ago to each other, sincerely impressed with the young woman you're becoming. It's like a switch has been thrown, really. Daddy, being Daddy, has specifically notice how much your sense of humor has recently matured. You can now take, understand, and deliver a joke way more successfully than in the past. You're appreciating other comics and remembering not only their words, but their delivery, as well as the sometimes punny and/or double entendre meanings behind their funny stories and jokes. You are much better at "yes, and"ing, as Daddy calls it - which, quite honestly, makes living with you much easier than when you were more sensitive to possibly being picked on and teased. Now? You just throw it right back in the best ways ever!
And me? Well, I've noticed your easier flow of speech and your increasing ability to tell a good story. Your ability to be a little more economical with your words. To, basically, just have a more relaxed, easier flow about you in general. I don't know, you just seem more typically teenager-y, but in a good way. :) Even things like small little injuries you may incur. The accident will happen, you'll say "Ow!" and quickly look to see if you're bleeding. Of course, most times you're not, so you just buck up and say, "Nope - I'm good" and move on. No more big drama for little pains. Very little big drama for anything, really. You're pretty much able to take whatever life throws your way with little mess left in its wake.
Not to say there's not the continuing pre-teen angst and common drama surrounding this natural phenomenon called "growing up." You do still have your moments, or even your days. But... I think you're, let's say, getting used to them. And maybe so are we. I think maybe you now know a little better what you need to do, or who you need to go to - or not - in order to help you return to a more even keel when you do find yourself on unsure footing. Sure, there are always going to be some blow ups that throw you and us for a loop. But we get through it. We all know how to move on. And - bottom line - you know we love you even if we don't know how to help you through a mini blip. Even if we mess up. If you mess up! It's just a blip. We love you and - I am so very grateful for this! - you have a fantastic head on your shoulders full of self respect and humble-but-true love for yourself. That right there, I promise you, will take you far. May you never lose sight of yourself and what you have already accomplished and/or that which you are destined to achieve - both inwardly and for the the rest of the world to take notice of and admire. You make us proud every single day. And I know you're proud of yourself too, as you should be.
This year you've started 6th grade. You're first year as a Middle Schooler! Typically, middle school is just bad news all around. No fun for the growing kid, and no fun for the parents of said kid. But for you? Well... you have just blossomed! And I know we live in a tiny little town with maybe not the best school system ever. But as far as I'm concerned, I have been really impressed with all your new school has to offer for you and your classmates in terms of growth and development opportunities and time set aside each day devoted to catching up and limiting the amount of work brought home. I especially liked the sound of the month long class you just finished - Guidance. A class that helped you and your classmates look to the future school-wise (including college) and career-wise. You figured out from this class that you want to be a mechanical engineer! Very cool. Additionally, this class taught you all a thing or two about respect and honor and just simply being good people. What a great class! And, yes, it was over the course of this class that Daddy and I took a real notice in your own personal growth and development. You ended up getting an A+ in that class! It sure does show, how much you paid attention there, put in the effort and did the work. You are great! (but you already knew that...)
Another thing about Middle School... you've seemed to have finally met one great, true friend. A girl who came over from the next town's elementary school. She just happens to be in every one of your classes (except for 2: your school's versions of Home Room and Study Hall). And she just happens to be a perfect fit for you. You both love Minecraft, and cats, and aren't real girly-girls, and tend to migrate towards boys as friends. You both love school and do well in your studies. You're both what I would call "nerdy gamer girls." Confident nerdy gamer girls at that! We had the pleasure of spending one evening with this new friend and you a couple months back, and now she's set to sleep over at our house tomorrow night in celebration of your birthday. We really like her and can see why you both get along so well.
I was honestly afraid that you - who preferred to spend your elementary school recesses alone even if you did claim to have good friends you could have played with - would get even more lost in the shuffle now that you would be at Middle School with no recesses at all. But... I forgot about The Lunch Table!!!! The all important social status hangout area of the upper grades. You either find your group to bond and eat with from here on out, or you're alone. Thank goodness for this new friend, and the (boy) friends who more or less came along with her from their school. You've gotten yourself a really great core group of tight friends right now. I'm not blind to the benefits these new friends have contributed to your own growth and development as well. And I know you help bring out the best in them! You've finally got some awesome kids to help you learn how to relax more, hang out and chat, have fun, and just "be" with... instead of always being on your own. Great friends really do help you in lots of great ways. Good for you all for being there for each other!!
Tonight we're going for our annual trip to the mall to see Santa - you're request. I asked you a few weeks back if you still wanted to do this, and you looked at me like I had 3 heads. "Duh!" You still believe! And you honestly don't understand why other kids are beginning not to. Actually, you've told us how sad you are for these kids and mad you are at their parents who "take over" buying the Santa gifts and not letting Santa do his job! You know - you just may have something there. Maybe that's it - as soon as a kid starts to doubt, or flat out not believe, then the magic of Santa is lost to them and he no longer comes around to their houses, instead letting the parents take over. So much the better for Santa! Less kids on Christmas Eve night for him to visit. But visit he does, to the true believers such as yourself. Never stop believing!
What more can I say. You're doing fantastic at school with your Honor Roll grades, your teachers are letting us know what a bright, curious, attentive and funny student you are, you've made some really great friends for you, you're looking ahead to your future in a serious and meaningful way, you're humor and speech is more refined, and your belief in magic, love, hope and joy is as strong as ever. You're helpful around the house and kind and respectful to all you meet. And you're still a really great cuddler who loves hanging out with her parents, playing games or watching TV, being held "with two hands" just like you've always preferred. The best parts of you are maturing, growing up and reaching for the future, and you still maintain the best parts of a magical childhood. How much better can it all be?!
So.... T minus 365 more days until you're a teenager. I can't believe it. I don't like this time going by so fast. But, also, I can't wait! I can't wait to see who you're becoming based on the awesome person you currently are. You are all set to blast off and be the most amazing teenager that ever was, I'm sure, ready to take on the world and become a successful, happy and self-assured adult.
And Daddy and me? We'll keep preparing your launching pad for you to give you the best boost we possibly can into the wide, wild world ahead.
Happy Birthday, little girl. We love you.