I'm afraid today wasn't your favorite birthday ever. Last night ended with you in your room, crying, talking, crying some more, until about 10. You were already declaring that you didn't want today to be your birthday, saying you knew it would be a bad day. Poor girl.
I think you were having some moments of feeling overwhelmed. You've been a busy girl this year, with lots of time devoted to extra curricular activities. Activities you've loved, but I think they've also had you feeling a little un-moored, missing some of the family time that we've sacrificed.
And then today turned out not to be so bad, until we were getting ready to leave your grandparents house and ended up huddling in their pantry when we realized the tornado sirens were going off. You lost your mind a little bit and I take 100% blame for that because you most definitely inherited/learned your storm anxiety from me.
Dance is pushing you this year, really pushing, because of the time it takes up and because it is forcing you to feel physical limitations you haven't noticed before. It's actually kind of remarkable that you are a competitor in only your third year of dancing (at six, you apparently got a late start...), but all you are feeling right now is that you are not as accomplished as some of your peers.
As much as I hate to see you upset I also know how much you are growing from this experience. Things have come easily for you in the realm of school and you don't have a lot of practice with not excelling. The truth is, as wonderful as you are in so many ways, you just aren't going to excel at everything. The sooner you learn this, the better. Although I suspect you'll actually have to learn it over and over again.
While it has been the source of some frustration for you, I have loved watching you dance this year. I have been so impressed by your poise and how quickly you make adjustments. You are learning all the time. I hope you are able to find some patience for yourself and not drop it at the end of this year because of the challenge. However, if you decide you don't want to compete and you want to take class just for fun, we will love and support that, too.
At nine-years-old you are already practicing the art of eye-rolling, foot stomping, and door slamming. We argue over the state of your room, your attitude toward your brother, your propensity to leave your things strewn throughout the house, and whether your hair should be up or down. The teenage turmoil... it is coming.
I'm cringing at some of the moody changes in you, despite knowing how necessary and unavoidable they are, but I'm also really enjoying the things we can share as you mature. We've been watching movies together - some favorites from this year include Hook, Fairy Tale: a True Story, and The Princess Bride. And we've been reading fun books together, we just finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone tonight. We play interesting games (Pretty, Pretty Princess might be a thing of the past for good) and have thoughtful conversations. You are developing a quick wit and sarcasm like your father possesses. This is probably not great in your third-grade classroom, but I bet it is something your friends will enjoy about you when you're older.
Nine was one of my favorite years as a child. When I was nine I sort of felt the responsibility of getting older, but I still felt free to enjoy lots of childhood things. As we find our way throughout this next year, I will commit to remembering this and do my best to give you plenty of space to just be a child. I will remind myself to be patient with both of us. And I will make sure to just sit with you once in a while so you can still climb up in my lap, curl into my arms, lay your head on my shoulder, and hear me whisper, "I love you," whenever you need it. Because I do, and I know you will always need me to tell you.
I love you, Harper.