So we worked on that, and she worked on that (learning to read helped tremendously), and in watching her I came to realize that a lot of my own alternating sense of feeling deep joy in the world around me and feeling completely overwhelmed by the world around me was, essentially, the same thing. I, too, like to read a lot. (Escapism? Indeed. Knitting has been a big benefit for me, in that it takes the edge off without being quite as anti-social as reading.) The more she became able to do on her own, the more at peace she was with her world. She developed quite a sense of humor, and if there is one thing I can say about my daughter, it's that she retains the ability to laugh, even at herself, through almost anything. It seems to be taking the edge off the pre-teen years, and I can only hope, on this day she turns 13, that it continues through the teenage years.
What else to say about my older daughter? She is kind, and thoughtful, and empathetic. She is beautiful, and doesn't care. She is still willing to tell me (and her younger sister!) that she loves us when we drop her off in the morning. She just started her middle school's first newspaper. She stuck with orchestra even when it wasn't what she really wanted, but is now happy because we found her a fiddle teacher. She's willing to try almost anything once, even raw oysters, and see it through (although she did almost spit that oyster back out). She took the commuter train out to my campus today - by herself! - so I could buy her a birthday sandwich. She loves to travel (she and her best friend have already planned - and priced out - a summer in Greece between high school and college; it may not happen, but she's got a plan!), rolls with the punches, and carries a book (or three) everywhere she goes.
Yesterday, she told us that for her birthday, she wanted to go on the Flightline at the Wild Animal Park. So we went. I ended up being the parent to go with the girls, and we all loved it (so much more than I'd thought I would, in fact). Especially the birthday girl, who was just happy as could be that we were willing to go on this adventure with her.
Carefree and happy after her practice run.
Happy birthday, baby girl. I can't tell you how glad we are that you're here.