A letter to my daughter on her 8th birthday.

Dear Gracie,

Can you believe you are eight-years-old? Of course you can; you’ve been waiting for this day for weeks, months. It’s your mama who is having trouble believing you are eight – and not for the reasons you might suspect. Yes, there is a small, small sliver of me that can’t believe that have an eight-year-old. But the truth is, I have a hard time believing you are only eight. The other day when I was telling someone about you, the first thing I said was that you are so mature that you seem so much more than 8. Older. More mature. Just bigger than the majesty that eight holds. You are so trustworthy and even and steady.

Not that you aren’t goofy and silly and enjoying your reign as the Queen of Middle Childhood. Oh, no. You are! You find nothing funnier than farting and making your sister and I look up, shocked and amused. You haven’t met a knock-knock joke you didn’t like. You love playing pretend-play with your sister, you play Barbies and Legos and Diego and Polly Pockets and, and, and… So there’s still plenty of kid inside you for me to enjoy.

But I guess it’s more of a Kid-Plus, and that has meant a lot of independence for you this year. It’s like you’ve left the ultimate safety of riding the Big Wheels of little kid-dom and are now riding the bicycle of tweendom, except maybe still with the training wheels on. You get to browse for books on your own in the library. I let you use the restroom alone at the store (although I really feel more comfortable if I can watch the doors to the store to make sure you are dragged through them). I don’t feel the need to keep you by my side every single minute when we’re out…although I will readily admit that you embrace the maturity and good behavior needed to be a Big Kid better if your sister isn’t stapled to your side; your kid sister reminds you far too easily that you are still a kid, too.

It’s been a balancing act this year for us between letting you grow up a little bit more and me still remembering that you’re still a kid, for all that you act otherwise. When you stumbled at school and got your first B on your report card, I had to walk the fine line between impressing upon you the need to slow-the-heck-down(!) with your school work because nothing is more important than school…and not crushing your spirit because you thought your world was ending with those two Bs.

Oh, Gracie… as much as I love your mature side, and your goofy side, and that unending well of confidence, I have to admit that your sensitive side that craves constant validation strikes so close to home that I probably do overreact. You’ve had a few run-ins with lying lately – most often, you’ll say you’ve washed your hair in the shower (the shower! booya! I love growing up!) when I can plainly see that the shampoo bottle hasn’t moved from where it was when I started the water. Then we start our dance of trying to impress upon you how serious a character flaw lying is, and remembering you’re still a little girl.

But we must be doing something right, Gracie-girl, because for all our dancing – me with the mommying and you with the…well, being awesome-ness – everyone who meets you comments on how dazzling and bright you are and how you are the world on a string. You’re fighting with your quasi-crush, J.G., for the title of Smartest Kid in Gifted&Talented; you kick butt at math, science, and reading (you squashed every advanced reading test they could find, actually); you crack random codes for fun, which makes it awfully interesting when I try to communicate something secret right in front of you; you’re confident and sassy enough that you’re afraid of nothing; you’re compassionate, responsible, quick to apologize, and you laugh as easily at yourself as you do at everything else. I’m pretty sure you’re just waiting for my generation to turn our backs for a second so you can take over the world.

Happy Birthday, Gracie. I feel like I’ve barely done you justice, so great is your You-ness. I’m pretty sure that’s a sign that you’ve taken over lead role in creating your own adventures. I might be standing here on the conductor’s box, waving my dictator stick around, trying desperately to influence you, but you’ve got this. I’ll just enjoy my vantage-point and choose a song for you every now and then, picking back up on lead when you need me to. But really, for the most part, you’ve got this, Gracie-girl. Flying along full-tilt looks so good on you.

Happy Birthday, sweetheart!




2 Responses to “A letter to my daughter on her 8th birthday.”

  1. Kathy Says:

    Happy, happy birthday Gracie! Enjoy your special day. .

  2. Gayle Says:

    Awww, how very sweet. Happy Birthday, Gracie!

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