I never managed a birthday letter the year you turned 10. Lest you be too upset, you should remember that Michael turned 7 and didn't get a letter either. I'm not sure why I didn't get around to it last year. A combination, perhaps, of us being wrapped up in our busy days and the fact that it is getting more difficult to write about the two of you in a way that feels respectful. With each passing year I'm more acutely aware that you made read these words someday, and that it will matter what I've said.
In November you turned 11. 11. I still can't quite get my head around it; how much more grown up you seem suddenly. You in a kind of stuck-in-the-middle age. Too old for many things that appeal to little kids, but not quite old enough for all the adult (or even young adult) movies, television shows, and books. You desperately want to be big. In so many ways I see you maturing and feel some of the, "I'm the adult, you are the child," lines starting to soften and blur.
The other day I accidentally used a word I wouldn't normally use around you and when I apologized you gave me a look and said, "It's not anything I haven't heard before Mom, I'm in fifth grade." And I know that's true. I have distinct memories of experimenting with creative vocabulary with my friends when I was even younger than you are now.
There have been several big changes in your life this year and for the most part you seem to have handled them with grace. Your commitment to dance increased dramatically. Most weeks you are at the studio for about eleven hours and you are probably getting a little less sleep than is optimal. The main side effect of this seems to be that you have absolutely no time whatsoever for cleaning up and your room is in a state of nearly perpetual chaos. While this drives me crazy, it doesn't seem to bother you in the least. I'm hopeful that you won't actually grow up to be a hoarder.
You've got attitude for miles, which is no surprise, as you've been finely honing the skills of eye-rolling and stomping for a couple of years. Your attitude has grown as you've aged and I know I'd be foolish to expect that to plateau soon.
Fortunately your attitude isn't the only quality that has been magnified as you've gotten older. You have also grown in empathy, responsibility, and determination. In most endeavors you continue to be fiercely independent, wanting as little help from us as possible. You are starting to feel a little nervous about heading to middle school next year, but I have a feeling the qualities you've been cultivating are going to serve you well.
I would be remiss not to mention the two activities you have grown to feel passionately about, aside from dance. You are learning to play volleyball, which I'll admit is exciting to me. There is something special about watching your child pick up a sport or activity that you once loved. The other activity that has newly been a big part of your life is playing in the Orff Ensemble at your elementary school. You've enjoyed learning the different instruments involved and are definitely developing a passion for playing music. It will be very interesting to see what kinds of choices you make in the next couple of years.
Whatever you choose to do, I hope you always realize that we love you and we're proud of you. I never could have imagined, when you were just a tiny baby, how much joy and passion you would bring to all of our lives. So many things are going to change in the next year or two - we will do our very best to be there for you and love you through all of it.