Monday, May 1, 2017
She's a year away from double digits. My little 3 pound baby is now a head-strong, chapter-reading, questioning, soccer-playing NINE year old. Next year is a big one, I suppose -- the big 1-0. But, somehow, the precipice of tweenhood (and then teenhood) feels big to me. Like I need to grab onto this last year of her girlhood. She's on a two-night trip with school right now. She was so nervous about going, but excited too. And, it kept feeling like it would just be a moment before she'd have those same butterflies as she heads off to a summer away or to college. She's halfway to 18.
It's a strange thing to be the parent. I so distinctly remember my impatience at growing up when I was young. I was so ready to be a grown up (or, so I thought) and thought it was taking forever to get there. And yet, with my own children, it is whizzing by. I know they feel that impatience at being older and the triumph of every passing year. Kai keeps telling me that she cannot believe she's almost in FIFTH grade (completely skipping over the fact that she is not yet in the fourth grade). I recognize that desire in her. But, despite that recognition, I just want to slow it all down for her. And, I say that even though I actually prefer my adult self over my child self. I like being a grown up and I know Kai will like it, too. So, it's not for her own sake that I wish it to slow down. It's for MY sake. We are so busy and there are so many demands on our time -- I rarely feel like I get moments to just soak up these days and enjoy their childhoods (even though I know they, themselves, are soaking up their days and moving in their own world that actually spins at a much slower pace than my own jam-packed world of meetings, traveling, and parenting...) It's a strange juxtaposition to know that our universes swirl at different speeds -- but, still, I will it to be slower (and yet, each year goes by a bit faster than the last).
Last year was the biggest party I may ever throw in my life. and this year we didn't do a party for Kailey at all. Instead, we gathered in San Diego with my parents, Kate and Becca for some much needed beach time. It was fun to take the kids to the beach. San Diego beaches are warm enough for body surfing and lots of wave splashing, which both kids loved doing. Alden kept exclaiming about how much he LOVED the water and the sand and the zoo and the pool. Kai was in her element in the water. She is a fish. Has been since her earliest days.
She got a ton of books for her birthday. She is such a reader now -- but, I think she has about 10 new books to occupy the next few months (really, it will only take her a few months to read them all!) She says "really" all the time now as a way to start her sentences, as though we don't believe what she has just said.
Nine year old Kailey is a scholar, an athlete, a patient sister, and full of insight. This year has also been the beginning of a political awakening for her. Earlier than many -- but necessitated by the politics of the day. She is paying more attention to the news and asking so many questions. A lot of the books she is reading right now relate to uprisings, civil rights, and some of our darker periods of history. It's great to see her exploring these themes and paying attention to the world -- although, I wish the times were different and we could be doing all of that exploration more in the abstract.
April is always a crazy month -- and this year her birthday was sandwiched between a LOT of work travel for me. I feel like I hardly got to take a breath this month -- which made the trip to San Diego all the more needed. It was fun to get a long weekend with family. Kai spent about two hours in the pool trying to stand up and balance on a boogie board. She has such persistence and determination. She would not give up. There was another little 3 or 4 year old in the pool with us a good chunk of the time that Kai was trying so hard to balance and when the little girl got ready to go, she turned to Kai and said, "you're really good... I hope you can do it soon." Kai has that ability to never give up. To try and try again. It's a remarkable gift - the gift of grit and perseverance. I love seeing her try and improve and, ultimately, succeed. She's a wonder to watch.
I want to grab onto this year. Both kids are at such good ages. Kai is such a big kid now. Full of understanding and starting to anticipate the needs of others. She is such a big help and so tuned into what's going on with everyone around her. The other day when I was being cranky she said to me, "you're not cranky at me... you're cranky at Alden but then you just get mad at everyone around you." She was right, and her insight stopped me in my tracks. And, I apologized.
She teaches me things about myself every day and makes me a better person. She's been making me a better person since the moment she was born. I'm so lucky to get to be her Mama.
For now, she's still a girl who likes getting her face painted, singing at the top of her voice to the Moana songs, playing pretend with her brother (although, sometimes she gets sick of being the mom while he is the baby... his favorite game), playing games, cuddling with her parents, sleeping with the lights on around her bed, and snuggling her kitties. For a little while longer, she's still our little girl.
I love you to the moon and back and around again, Kailey!!
Happy NINTH birthday!