Zoey at Nine Years Old

Zoey,

You are nine years old now. Your last year in the “single digits.” Older than the number of fingers you can hold up. A third grader. I blinked and you’re halfway to adulthood. There’s a part of me that mourns how quickly your childhood is passing by, but a much larger part is reveling in the amazing person you are becoming.

You have so many amazing interests and talents and abilities. I hardly ever see you without embroidery thread in your hands, as you braid and twist and knot to make the most interesting and colorful friendship bracelets. I have been wearing a rainbow-colored anklet you made me for almost two months now and have no plans to take it off anytime soon. It’s beautiful. I love the things you make, and even more I love the way it has never occurred to you that these things may be more challenging for you to make than for other folks with more fingers. You want to do it, so you just do.

You learned to whistle this year. For weeks – months? – you’ve been going around the house whistling non-stop. It’s fun to see you so proud of your new skill. Now I have you working on the trick of humming and whistling at the same time. You’ve just about gotten it down.

Your swimming abilities have really progressed this year. You’re a regular little fish, with a love for water. You met your summer goal of passing the YMCA’s “yellow” level test. You and your fellow third graders are currently going to the YMCA twice a week for swim lessons right now and you’ve set a new goal of reaching “green” level. I have faith that it is a goal within reach for you.

This setting of goals is such a fun development to see. Where you used to shut down at the idea of trying something new, attempting something you weren’t sure you could perform perfectly the first time, now you are getting braver, embracing challenges just a tiny bit, beginning to understand that it’s okay to fail. I love to see you be so brave, to be willing to try even if you’re afraid or lacking confidence.

Your friendship circle is really growing this year as well. We’ve had to delay your birthday party a week due to norovirus in the house again, but you’re so excited to have a party next weekend. You came to me with an idea for your party that was all your own: you wanted an endangered species party, and, instead of gifts, you requested that your guests make a donation to help endangered animals. I suggested the World Wildlife Fund and you agreed it was perfect. My heart is just exploding with pride at the compassionate, generous person that you are. You love animals and the environment and care deeply about the fate of both.

At home, you remain the doting oldest sister to your siblings. You adore Dinah. You are patient with Alden. You are helpful and kind to Eleanor. You have one of the gentlest souls and kindest hearts, and I love seeing that expressed with your siblings.

Reading remains your favorite hobby. Every time we get you a new “age appropriate” chapter book from the library, you’re done with it in less than fifteen minutes. The graphic novels take you less than five minutes. We’re having to let you branch into some older literature to meet your reading level. I know that means some “older” topics as well. It’s a bit scary, letting you discover that this incredible world can also contain things like hatred and violence, pain and loss. It’s hard to know when exactly a child is ready for those concepts. I have no doubt, however, that you will use this new knowledge of the world and find ways to make it a better place.

Oh Zoey, this world is better just because you are a part of it. You bring silliness and sweetness, intelligence and laughter, and so much raw emotion to this world. I am so incredibly honored to be the one who gets to guide all that through the role of mother. Thank you for being mine these nine wonderful years. I love you, Little Bit.

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