Saturday, June 13, 2015

Squirrely Girl is 8!

Dearest Little Girl,

Wow! Eight years old! I am not even sure how we got here. Did I blink? The moments pass so quickly...

So often, I try to take you into my arms and find that you are all legs and arms, and it seems like almost nothing is left of the tiny baby that once fit in my palms. Other times, she is still there, wide blue eyes, joy and innocence.

This has been a wonderfully transformative year for you. Last year in school, you struggled to find your place. A few of the friendships you had were full of drama and "mean girls" that left you feeling confused and hurt on a regular basis. I struggled to help you understand that you are enough and that your gentle little heart was not a weakness, even though at times it felt like a burden. This year, with the change of classmates and a teacher who found your strengths and really helped you grow, you've had a tremendous year. You're still in search of that "best friend" that is always kind and who you can always be "you" with, but I can see how much happier you are, how you are back to yourself and the free, happy little spirit you have always been. You are such a reader this year! You finished the year with the highest AR score in the grade, and loved spending your time reaching those goals. You're still having some math anxiety--exacerbated, I think, by last years struggles. Many days have you laid on the floor to throw a temper tantrum at the thought of having to do a single sheet of homework. But truly, those moments are overshadowed by the overall change I have seen in  you this year as you have hit your stride.

Aside from math homework, and the occasional torments of your brothers, your life is full of happiness. You are still the great event coordinator--making big plans to organize the neighborhood kids, calling "family meetings," directing your brothers in whatever type of pretend play suits you. Sometimes you make me more than a little crazy with your elaborate ideas--which often lead to even more elaborate messes. But I do love your creativity and ability to round up others into your ideas.

One change this year that has been hard on me is that tween transition--the one where Mom and Dad fall from the pedestal. Where once our word was Gospel, we now find ourselves occasionally subjected to eyes rolling, disbelief, arguments, or--worst of all--those withering, hateful looks that break my heart. I know these moments are all about you learning to be your own person (with a touch of changing hormones), and an important part of your growing up, but at the same time, it's another reminder of the slow march you take towards severing the strings that bind our hearts together. Thankfully, these moments are less frequent than the moments of laughter, snuggling, talking together, and general trust you still have in us, and often followed by sweet notes of apology that almost make it worth the glares and sass.

You love singing, and acting, and art. You write your own silly songs and dream of being a "pop star." Last summer, we acted in Seussical together, you as the cutest Who from Whoville there ever was, and this year, you are preparing for your parts as fish and seagull in The Little Mermaid. You even took the lead of "Mother Goose" in your 2nd grade play, with a singing solo to boot. You are still a performer, with the ability to light up on stage for an audience in a way that fills me with a type of pride I could have never imagined before you came into my life.

I see your growth in the Gospel as well--your thoughtful questions, your desire to be baptized. (You'll be baptized in the Snake River, and there is a high level of apprehension about this, and excitement about making your first covenants with your Heavenly Father.) You like to teach Family Home Evening, you'll read scriptures as long as we let you. And though your brothers protest, you are always happy and excited to go to church.

You are such a good example to me, and so often I feel I fail you. But you are full of forgiveness and unending love. You are the best kind of big sister--patient, loving, gentle. Sure, there are moments where you can't take any more of the harassment they give you and lose your cool, but for the better part, your actions speak of the love you have for those boys of ours. So many nights, I may come to your room to find them curled up with you, listening to you read a book, or playing a game of your design.

I know I probably say this, every year, but my sweet, darling, busy, squirrely girl, you are joy. I could spend my day watching you play. There is such a light in you; it exudes happiness and wonder. My deepest prayer for you is that no one ever succeeds in extinguishing that light. It's most manifest in your laughter--oh that laugh that comes from your toes and causes you to grab your belly and buckle in two--but it's there in the way you chase butterflies, talk about your friends, tell us what you learned in Primary, eat a watermelon, and create art. You know kindness, joy, and love, and you work to acquaint everyone you meet with these companions of yours.

I am grateful every day for you, for who you are becoming, and for who you are helping me become. I am slow to progress, imperfect, and in need of grace, but you are the reminder that God loves me, else why would he have ever given me such a gift as you?

I love you, my princess. For always.



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