Zoey At Eleven Years Old

Zoey,

I love you more with every passing day. I wouldn’t have thought that possible eleven years ago, when you rocked my world in ways I never imagined. I knew then that I would lay my life on the line for you, without a moment’s hesitation. That I would fight like the ultimate mama bear for you, every time. Somehow though, that fierce love only grows deeper and stronger with time.

Zoey you are an absolute delight. You bring joy, friendship, and kindness everywhere you go. You sprinkle them like fairy dust. You are the savior of my sanity on so many days, and I don’t think you even realize it. Watching your patience and gentleness with your siblings makes my heart swell with a pride I haven’t the words to describe.

Speaking of pride: you just started fifth grade but this year you entered the honors math program and are doing rapid pace, consolidated sixth and seventh grade math. Despite having so little direct teacher instruction since March of 2020, you are sailing through the first few weeks of this advanced curriculum. In your regular class, your teacher is challenging you and your classmates to be more independent, to be fully responsible for your own organization and schoolwork. Watching you rise to that challenge and do it with a joyful spirit makes my heart swell with pride.

You have spent approximately 87% of the past year with your nose buried in a book. Especially the “Wings of Fire” series. Both the graphic novel versions and traditional novels. You have also re-read your Dad’s “Calvin and Hobbes” anthologies about fifteen times. Now you’re reading them out loud to your siblings (I think as an excuse to read them a sixteenth time) and still giggling at every single comic.

On weekend mornings you wake up before anyone else – often around 6:30 – because you just can’t wait to start reading your book again. We’ll find you curled up on the couch with a cozy blanket, lost in some fantasy world of dragons and magic.

You spent a lot of time playing “teacher” to your siblings this past year. I don’t mean due to pandemic homeschooling; you all literally like to play pretend school with you as the teacher. You even create worksheets for them to complete that are perfectly tailored to their academic abilities. I know you love art, but you truly could have a calling as an educator.

Two years running now, you have been honored for your artwork entries in the school district contest. Last winter your artwork was turned into greeting cards to be used by district staff. This week, your calendar entry for July was in the top twenty entries for the whole district. You’ve been watching old episodes of Painting With Bob Ross on YouTube while you paint along with your acrylics and a small canvas. Your talent always impresses me, but I especially love the happiness it brings you.

For your Girl Scout Bronze Award this year, you and the other junior scouts in your troop came up with the idea of reducing waste by helping your classmates to remember to bring refillable water bottles to school. After brainstorming together, you created carabiners that said, “Clip It, Don’t Forget It!” that students could clip on their backpacks to help them remember their water bottles each day. Then you did some research about the impact of disposable water bottles on our environment and gave a presentation to your class (and Eleanor’s class) before giving all the students the carabiners and personalized rubber bracelets to remind them.

Your activist spirit is inspiring and beautiful to witness. I wish I had a better world to offer you, Zoey. One without climate change, without a deadly global pandemic, without racism and sexism and all the other “isms” that we fight against. But I love that you want to fight it. I love that you want to make it better. You give me hope that the world will get better, Zoey. That you will be part of the reason it does.

Happy Birthday, my Little Bit. Go slay some dragons.

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