Today You Are Nine
Oh my god, today you are nine.
Nine feels so momentous to me. Nine feels like it’s almost ten. Nine feels like it’s so many more than two or three or even six. Nine feels like everything right now.
Today you are nine.
Today you are in third grade. You took on a new school this year with such uninhibited courage. You didn’t let the bad days get you down. You didn’t let the not-so-nice girls stand in your way. You walked in there with a smile on your face for everyone who crossed your path. A determination in your eye. A heart that was wide open. May it always stay that way.
Today you are very into Harry Potter. You are on book six right now and every time you finish one, I race you to the store to get the next. I can’t imagine putting your love of reading on pause, even for a second. It is so glorious.
Today you are a dog owner. It might be the best thing that has ever happened to you. You are stern with her. You want her (and us) to know that you’re a responsible, mature dog owner and that all those books you’ve read on them have gone to good use. You are a great dog owner.
Today you are starting to dip your toe into the tween years that linger ahead of you. You get “embarrassed” sometimes. You “worry” about things. I always thought I would dread the teenage years with my kids but I’m not. I am so interested to see what you become, how you navigate them, how we work through them together. You are a thinker and a feeler but you’re also confident and brave. I have to believe that all those things are going to work in your – our – favor. But for now, for nine, you’re also still a kid. A glorious, goofy, watch cartoons in her pj’s with her little brother, kid.
Today you are open to trying new foods again. It goes in cycles with kids, every few years. You are a little more open-minded lately. Some things work out, some don’t. But at least you’re trying. Favorites still remain pasta of any kind, cheese pizza and bagels. But you’ve also tried lamb and liked it. So let’s call that a win.
Today you weigh 64.5 pounds. You asked me if you looked skinny once a few weeks ago. It stopped me in my tracks. We talked about it briefly and moved on. I hope you don’t ever come back to it. I know you will probably will.
Today you are still a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl but you’ve branched out into plain long sleeved tees instead of character-clad ones. It makes you look like such a big girl. Hair is still firmly in its ponytail most days.
Today you are in this in-between phase where half of you still wants cuddles and hand-holding and the other half wants to close her bedroom door when her friends are over. I feel like this whole year will be an in-between kind of year. Not quite a kid, not quite a teenager. But still all mine.
Today you still sleep with ten stuffed animals every night. You went for a sleepover at your grandmother’s the other night and your grandfather had to drive the five miles back to our house at 10pm because you had forgotten your stuffed animals at home. I answered the door in my pajamas and looked at his tired eyes and apologized for you. He just chuckled. It was simply history repeating itself, he said. You are your mother’s daughter. By the time he got back home with the stuffies, you were already fast asleep.
Today you are taking tennis (for me) and art classes (for you). You are showing a lot of progress in the former and a lot of natural talent in the latter. You like to lose yourself in the art studio, getting your hands dirty, soaking up the coolness of the teachers, having a place that is yours and yours alone, without the distraction of your usual friends or even your family. It’s your thing.
Today you are still super close with your brother but the relationship is shifting a bit. Your patience wears thin some days and you show it. Nine and five can feel like two very different planets sometimes. But somehow, you always manage to come back to what matters. You bend, you give, you let him win. You are the big sister that we hoped you would be.
Today your favorite color is turquoise. You like bootcut jeans, even though I buy you skinny all the time.
Today you are nine. I can remember what it was like to be nine. It strikes me every day. You will remember this so well. You will remember the ice cream cake we’re going to have and the Harry Potter gifts you’re going to get. You’re going to remember what nine glowing candles look like. And how the balloons filled your room when you woke up this morning. You’re going to remember your friends coming over to celebrate you and your dog going crazy with excitement. And the best part is, we will always get to remember it too. Because it will be the day you turned nine. And it will be everything.
Happy birthday, D.