Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Dear Del ... at seven years old!!

Dear Del,
Another year! And now you're a SEVEN year old kid. Again, it's amazing it's only been a year. We've done so much, you've grown so much, and at the same time, we're still here, on our farm living our life. You've become increasingly ... um, screechy? Maybe that's the way to say it? It seems that any action someone else takes, is clearly an attack against you - at least, in your own mind. This is stressful for all and hard to know how to approach.
The biggest change for you this year, was your sisters moving back to their dads. This is what fostering is. And while you were sad to see them go and you miss them, you were also happy to see them go. I think that feeling was shared by everyone - me, you, the girls, daddy, Noah ...
And overtime, the screechy-ness ebbed and your immediate assumption that someone sniffed because they were mad at you eased. You're still drama and you still take things personally (that are not personal in the least), but you seem more comfortable in your own skin.

And it wasn't the whole year that was like that - mostly the weeks leading up to your birthday, which were also the weeks leading up to the girls moving home and involved a drawn out transition - which was challenging for everyone. Up until that point, we were having regular life, you featured as the oldest sister. You patiently read to a girl less than a year younger than you and loved playing dress up games with her. You tolerated a sister a few years younger than you, and doted on a sister 4 years younger.

You've found a passion for reading - comic books and chapter books. You like Judy Blume, Garfield, Junie. B, and most recently these random unicorn books that Grammy found for you. When you're not reading, you're a whirlwind wherever you go. When you're done with a book, you drop it; when you're done with your coat, you drop it; when you're done pouring milk into your granola, you leave it on the counter.

You're also the first one to help with a chore when asked (washing dishes! stacking wood!) and check in when you're feeling sad or you notice someone else is feeling sad. Life is fully of ups and downs and you're often looking for the person to hold responsible to remedy the situation. This can be awesome, or it can be not awesome ("guys, time to finish up on the video games." "It's not MY fault! You're the one who SAID we could do screen time!"). You're strong and smart and funny. You can come across as so confident with a huffy puff, a foot stomp, and an eye roll. And a half hour later be a ball of mush in my arms because someone didn't ask how you were doing. You're complicated. And I sit and wonder sometimes because we can feel another neurofibroma on your forehead, or near your eye. And what we've read is that learning disabilities - often with memory/reading are common. So you blow me away when you read incessantly (and correct me when I read aloud, insisting that you are right) or when you are obsessed with getting through math lessons or practicing handwriting. Like you can't get enough of life!

We've had camping trips and amusement park days. We've said bye to some great friends and you're a pro at talking on the phone now. A lot. You love every color of the rainbow, except brown or black. You insist that whatever whacky clothing combo you pick out is totally normal and not a big deal. You are disorganized to a fault, mostly because you have more important things to do in life (primarily reading). You have found a new love for twirly dresses and would love to wear dresses every day. But as always, you are "cool" only - no one is to call you "cute" or "adorable" or "sweet" or anything similar. Or they get a growl from you. Although, you recently went to work with daddy (which you LOVED and rocked with your socialness spilling all over) and people were calling you cute, etc all over the place. And you didn't growl. I was shocked to hear this. "They didn't know I didn't like to be called "cute"", you explained with a shrug like it was no big deal. After 4 years of growls. I'm impressed. And I realized this was another step in your growing process - seeing the world through someone else's eyes.

And when people ask if you're excited about being a big sister, you remind them that you've already been a big sister. But you are excited about a new baby. You want to be the first to hold the baby and you insist that we all have to agree on a name. And if we have to vote, then we will .... (except in our experience, a "vote" to you is only valid if the majority agrees with you).

You are exactly the kind of grownup I want you to become. Strong, thoughtful, sensitive, independent, compassionate ... sometimes all those wonderful attributes are hard to manage in a seven year old body. We'll keep holding your hand, helping you navigate those feelings as best we can. It's not just you who broke down crying when we got the call that the girls were leaving ... and then when asked if we were sad - we both said: "I don't know!".
I'm so proud of you, navigating all that you do with fierceness and a grin all mixed together.

I'm so so thankful you're our daughter. I can't wait to see what the next year brings - bumps, scrapes, bruises and all!

Hugs (but no kisses at your insistence),

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