I cannot think of a better way to try to get back into this blogging thing than be wishing you a happy eighth birthday. It’s given me a chance to spend a few minutes looking back on the year that was and marveling at what you have done and who you are becoming.
To kick off your eighth year we rented a giant inflatable waterslide and lots of your friends came over to get hot and wet and eat cupcakes and generally wreak havoc on our backyard. It was awesome and once again you declared this the Best! Birthday! Party! Ever! But this year? I really think it was.
Almost a year ago you started off your seventh year with sleep away camp for the very first time. I’d like to go ahead and tell you now you have NO chance at ever playing poker successfully because every emotion you own crosses your face and eyes almost instantaneously. You were all at once so very excited and so very anxious about going away for 11 whole days. But you know what? You had a blast. You spread your wings and made new friends, had an adventure and discovered how much you could do all by yourself. And that experience has served you very well this year.
This year also brought you lessons in friendship. For the first time you and LaurenLastName were not in the same class. When you found out that was the case, there was great woe about the land, but both of you learned to expand your social circle a bit – and navigate the choppy girl waters that come with that. This year you learned that sometimes you have to stand up for yourself and for your friends. That for all your bravado and personality there are others that are so fascinating they lead you down the wrong path. I know this situation will repeat itself as you grow up, but I am so very proud of the way you handled yourself when you had to face it at seven. May you always have such grace and strength.
You had to say goodbye to two very special forces in your life this year – your (great) Grandma and our Pfluftagus, Sunni. Daddy and I worried about you a little since these events happened within a few months of each other, but you handled it well. Your steel trap of a mind remembered everything you experienced when you lost your Grandpa Gene and you approached the services with a loving sense and tremendous respect. And truth be told you and your brother provided a bright ray of sunshine to all that came together to say goodbye.
Losing Sunni was a new experience for you – and I think you were surprised by the struggle it gave you. Everything you knew about death was related to humans and it was hard for you to understand that pets don’t have funerals, there is no grave site. It felt incomplete to you. The vet was kind enough to create a ceramic print of sunni’s paw so that we would have something to remember her by. You held that little ornament close to you the day it came, but that night it was too sad and scary for you to deal with alone in the dark and brought it back down to me so that I could take care of it for you. We decided together to hang it by our back door now and you smile when you see it.
This was also the year your dance interest got fed more seriously. You moved to a studio that is less about the costumes for the recital and more about the technique and fostering a true love of dance and my g-d how you loved it. This year you tried out for next year’s Company and made it. You are officially a Jazz Bit. You have no idea what this really means, but you are excited at the opportunity to take some extra classes and perform more often. This Saturday you will dance in your final Revue on the stage of the Wortham Theater – one of the finest professional stages in Houston. You have worked hard – focused, practiced and practiced some more – and while the costume is still one of your favorite parts (it has a twirly skirt, afterall), I know that the best part of this will be how you feel dancing on stage. You are fearless on stage – no matter how big – and it makes my heart explode to see you enjoying yourself so much.
But above all else, what can bring me to tears and laughter and utter frustration faster than a hot second is seeing you be a big sister to Benjamin. The two of you are a real pair. Sometimes you’re a pair of assholes, but mostly you’re hilarious. Benjamin WORSHIPS you. He wants to talk like you, run like you, scream like you (just stop it already) and even dance like you. There are times when you’d just prefer for him to GO PLAY IN THE OTHER ROOM ALREADY, but you spend a few extra moments tolerating his presence and somehow you two end up on some wild ass adventure that involves 157 blocks, two blankets, nine pillows and a hat.
You love your brother fiercely. You laugh at him and with him, help him and want to protect him when he’s in trouble which these days is every 27 seconds. You are a kind and loving and silly big sister and he is lucky to have you.
We all are.
Happy birthday, Swimmy. May this year be full of friends and giggles and growth and adventures and accomplishments. And thank you for letting me come along for the ride. I love you –