Gracie, Gracie, Gracie. I know you are more than ready to be done with eight. You’re over it. Used it all up. You sucked every single useful thing out of eight, and I’d say it’s lying used and discarded on the sidewalk except you and your nerdtastic ways have probably found a way to preserve it with some sort of math-powered independent energy source up on the shelf. And probably coated it with glitter for good luck. But still, STILL I am not used to saying “nine.” My baby is nine. Whoa. Possibly it has something to do with the fact that TEN is next, but whatever. We’ll deal with mama’s crisis-in-waiting later. For now…
Ten Things Gracie Likes So Much She’s Willing To Do Anything To Be Able To Stay Up Late To Do Them
1. Earning extra bedtime. What, was that one obvious? Gracie, you love earning you some extra bedtime. When Ms. G. and I couldn’t figure out the right incentive to get you to focus on your practice STAAR tests? Awarding you 30 minutes of extra bedtime for an A was the trick that finally worked. If I really need you to pull things together and stop arguing? I threaten to take away bedtime. When I couldn’t get you to speed up your blanket-arranging routine at bedtime or, you know, let me leave before they were just. so. – I made you go to bed five minutes earlier if you really, really needed me there and what do you know! All of a sudden you were fine with letting me free if it meant you could keep those five minutes of bedtime.
2. Being all emo and storming off. This doesn’t happen very frequently – yet. But I know it’s coming. It’s like the storms of teeneragery doom are looming on the horizon. I can see them. I can make plans to batten down the hatches. I can run air raid sirens and drill all I want to. But they’re coming. For now, whenever we do butt heads, this is usually how you like to tell me I am wrong and a doofus and just WRONG! Did I mention wrong? Yeah. I guess I can’t be too complainy because you’re at least listening to my rule about not saying mean and hurtful words. At least not until your door is shut.
3. Full House. Fresh Prince of Bel Air (or anything Will Smith). Shark Week. Jeopardy. Wheel of Fortune. All new age brackets (Nine!! NINE!!!) means you are ready for all new TV shows. Full House might still be age appropriate (how else could you handle that level of cheese, babe?), but other than that, your tastes tend to lean towards scary and gory – you don’t understand why I won’t let you watch Jaws - and geektastic. Oh, and Will Smith because as you say, “Duh – he’s Will. Smith.” I am having so much fun introducing you to all of it! Going to see Jurassic Park 3D with you was one of my favorite moments this year!
4. Math. Don’t ask me – you didn’t get this from me, certainly. But you’ll just sigh out of the blue, turn to me, and say things like, “Math soothes me, Mom.” Um…good?
5. Scary movies. See earlier comment about hounding me to see Jaws. I let you watch Jurassic Park and you were hooked on the scary-funness of it all. There’s no way I’m caving on Jaws yet, but I’m working on finding other jump-out-of-your-skin-and-laugh shows for you to watch. You got Soul Surfer for your birthday, which satisfied your gore-quota if not the scary side of things. Maybe I can find some Are You Afraid of the Dark? for you?
6. Graphic novels. You’ve read Reina Telgemeier’s Smile a hundred million times. You got her other graphic novel for your birthday and read all 230 pages in 90 minutes. You borrow comics from the library, have written several of your own, read the graphic novelization of A Wrinkle in Time ,and are currently working your way through that version of The Lightning Thief.
7. Being political. You love taking sides on hot topics and will seriously discuss why you feel the way you do about home schooling or coming out or uniform policies or anything that’s mentioned. You recognize almost as many political figures as I do and will rattle off facts about them. Your crush on our president is adorable, Gracie-girl, but more than the “cutesy” aspect of it, I love that your opinions are well-informed. I love that you think deeply before you speak, and that you’re never afraid to change your mind. As long as we have evidence, mind you. You love evidence even more than math.
8. Joining allllll the things! The other day you got out of the car and said, “Wow, I’m busy today,” with that kind of contented sigh that told me how happy you are with your life right now. You’re part of a competitive dance group that meets during the after-school program, you have book club and chess club that also meet during after-school, and you’re involved in three competitive academic groups – music memory, spelling club, and essay writing. (Competitive writing?! Why didn’t they have that when I was little?!) I love that you’re a joiner, that you recognize that the more groups you join the more friends you make, and most of all how responsible you are about making sure your homework still gets done without complaining. If anything, Gracie, you relish sitting down to do homework because you were too busy to do it earlier. Geek.
9. Reading out loud. I love that you’re a reader, Gracie. I love that we still read together almost every night on the couch. I hate that I have to fight you to read the chapter out loud. Because apparently you also love reading out loud. Show-off. So far, a compromise with odd/evens is working out for us. But I love those nights when you’re tired and you’re happy to cuddle on my lap while I read out loud to you. Heaven, Gracie. Having each of my girls cuddled into my sides while I read to them is my heaven.
10. Like I said – cuddling. You love cuddling while we read. When we watch TV together. I get a giant hug each morning after breakfast, and every morning when we all wake up. You are a cuddler – and I am soaking up all I can before you really become a teen and realize that they, that’s ain’t cool.
10 Things Gracie-Girl Thinks Are Absolutely, Totally, and Irrevocably the “S” Word. (That means Stupid.)
1. Finishing tests. Sigh. Ms. G. and I were pulling our hair out worrying over how to get Gracie to finish her practice tests strong. Gracie would get to the end of the tests and poop out just when she saw the finish line. Thank god we figured it out a few weeks before the real deal, but it still gave us more than a few gray hairs.
2. Me picking out her clothes. It doesn’t matter if I’m talking about clothes shopping or throwing together an outfit in the morning – I know nothing. Hell hath no fury like a tween not in control of her outfit.
3. Feeling all the feelings. Ohhhhh there is a strong possibility we are not going to survive the next few years. There are times when Gracie is tired or overwhelmed or just…feeling things…and she gets all teary and over-emotional and melts the heck down. What really breaks my heart is that she’ll blubber through the tears in the most confused voice, “Mom, I don’t know why I FEEL THIS WAY! I don’t even know!” Good god – mommying is not for the weak of heart. No one tell her it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
4. Not seeing her two BFFs from daycare. Being in after-school programs means that Gracie only gets to see her lifelong sidekicks on Fridays. I think that makes for a pretty kickass end of the week, and usually Gracie is too busy to be too bummed about it, but there are Fridays when I get an earful about how she never gets to see them! (Like – ever!)
5. Reading in her head. I mentioned how much Gracie-girl loves to read out loud – but that doesn’t just hold true when we’re alone. Any time she’s reading, Gracie prefers to share with the class. Whether someone is trying to watch TV, or her sister is doing her homework, or any number of things – Gracie just doesn’t get why she can’t read out loud and we can’t just ignore her. Oh, if only it were that easy sometimes, Gracie-boo.
6. Wearing weather appropriate clothing. Why won’t I let her leave her coat at home? Or wear shorts when it’s 40° outside? Or pants when it’s 90°? I know I’m pretty lax about what my kids wear – want to wear that cape to Target? Or those plaid tights with a spotted skirt and a patterned tshirt? Knock yourself out – but there are times when I have to be a mom. And good golly do my kids not like that.
7. Chewing with her mouth closed. I try to remember that Gracie’s horrible allergies play a part in this. Breathing is nice, after all. But so is not having to listen to that smacking at the dinner table. Oooh, I’m cringing and burying my ears into my shoulders just typing this. But along with being perm-stuffy, Gracie is also
eight nine, which means she notices she’s doing it absolutely none of the time. So I like to help her out by reminding her eleventy kajillion times a meal. Sigh.
8. Veggies. Any veggies. Oh, she’ll eat cucumbers until I tell her she’ll burst, or carrots with a gallon of ranch dressing. And just about any type of corn. But that’s about it. Not roasted cauliflower, or any type of green bean, or spinach, or kale, or squash, or broccoli, or tomatoes. To her credit, Gracie will try just about anything. But if you make her choose between finishing three bites of veggies or going without dessert, she’ll happily forgo the sweets. Every time.
9. Disappointing her people. Gracie has this really annoying habit right now of wallowing in the depths of despair if she’s let someone down. “I don’t deserve to have a better night/stay up late/have dessert!” she’ll wail. And it drives me bonkers. “Did Harry wail that he didn’t deserve the Marauder’s Map back when Lupin offered it? No! He knew he had earned it and recognized that he would make better choices. Now suck it up and stop whining!!” Er, um, something.
10. Being told you can’t do something. I need to qualify this one – if I can show you how I arrived at my decision, show you the evidence and the logic behind the decree, well then you’re just fine. But if you don’t agree with me, or if you think I’m being whimsical – look out, world. You like to negotiate around things and prove people wrong. No one better tell you that you can’t do something unless it’s for a bloody good reason. It makes for some difficult bedtimes when we’re going to bed early because I am tired, but I can’t fault you too much, Gracie-girl. It might make for some tricksy parenting, but it’s going to make you one hell of a force to be reckoned with when you’re a grown-up. And I rather like that.