My #3 is 9 years old. 9.
My middle child is 9.
#1 and #2 went through gradual changes and matured over a period of time and one day I noticed that they were young ladies and no longer little girls.
But this one. I have watched this one over the course of one year mature and ground herself to the earth.
When she was little, she was known as “Sparkles.” She flitted here and there with a smile on her face. She laughed, sang, and danced all the time. As soon as her eyes opened to the sun each morning, she bounded down the stairs like Tigger always wondering, “Where will the wind take me today?” This is one of her favourite sayings that she would always say to me, and still does, “Mama, let’s let the wind take us somewhere today.” Unfortunately, most days it isn’t up to the wind. It’s up to our ever-busy schedules. But sometimes, I can tell her that we can let the wind dictate our day and when that happens, I can honestly say, that I’ve never seen a child smile so bright.
This is still how I see her:
The wild unruly hair that never likes to be tamed. (As you can see from the first pic, it’s still like that.)
The bubbly baby face that is always smiling or about to crack in a smile. I remember how we had trouble getting her passport photo taken when she was little because the photographer told her not to smile and it was virtually impossible.
The voice that is always about to burst into song. The voice that hits an octave and a volume that can be heard a mile away. The voice that squeals in delight over everything.
The child that is so comfortable outdoors – barefoot and fancy free from the time she could walk. I remember her refusing to go to malls with my dad for a period because she absolutely felt trapped and would have a meltdown because she needed fresh air. She still tells me to this day how being outside fixes everything.
This is the child that most surprised me. Her wonderful audacity. Her sublime comfort with her voice. Her desire to see the good in everyone. Her lack of caution and fear. She brings the play and the joy out of all of us.
She laughs. We laugh.
She sings. We sing.
She moves. We move.
She cries. We all feel sad.
This year marked a change. There is a heaviness on her shoulders. A weight felt that is so new to her – the burden of growing up. I see this transition so stark and clear with her where the other 2 older sisters passed through it gradually, slowly awakening to hard truths and the complexities of life.
There has been many firsts this year.
She asks to have alone time more and finds solace in solitude especially outside:
She no longer gets up with the sun. She is often the last one awake and her sleep is sometimes troubled.
She moves differently. There is less dancing and more athletic movements and the desire to play sports:
This has led to more time with her dad and less with me.
There is a seriousness now when she does her school work. Her writing has changed and toned down. Before her letters would be grand and large and now they are very contained and subdued:
I see her struggle to want to be a fancy-free little girl but she feels that she just can’t be that all the time and she doesn’t know why. She listens to stories with her younger siblings and loves to play in the mud kitchen but then suddenly, she tears herself away to read alone. She is straddling two worlds, a normal thing at this age, but so abnormal for her that there is confusion and a challenge to find her place.
The best thing that we try to do is to honour who she is at each moment.
One moment she may be silly and laughing…and so we are right there with her like when she was giving her dad a trim:
One moment she wants to compete physically with her siblings…and we are there right with her:
One moment she is full of child-like wonder and is messy and full and light…and we are right there with her:
One moment she needs me to stop talking. One moment she needs Ever-Patient to spend time with her. One moment she needs all of her siblings. One moments she needs space. One moment she needs to sleep in my bed and tell her stories. One moment she tells a joke at the dinner table to break the tension. One moment she needs to be outside. One moment she breaks down for no apparent reason and we are there. We are always there.
She is living in a world of extremes as she turns 9. I want to tell her that it will get easier. But that’s not true. I want to tell her that it’s ok to be a little girl still. But deep down we both know that she can’t stay there forever.
We are here for you and celebrate your every moment. We honour the person you are right now and the person you will be tomorrow. Even if you can’t find the song in your voice sometimes, I know that you will always hear the song in your heart.
Happy Happy Birthday.
Love: Mama and Dada