Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dear Del :: 8 years old

Dear Del,
Aunty Chels wrote on a helium balloon for you on your birthday: "happy 9th birthday". So I keep thinking about writing your letter and think: "oh, I can't believe she's nine!! ... oh wait. She's not ... I should really write her letter before she turns nine though.
So you're eight. You're still you. Tough and gentle, inquisitive and all-knowing, insistent and agreeable, serious and funny.

You love to read. You spend hours outside in the spring and summer weather - mostly on the hunt for frogs and tadpoles. You delight at ducklings, chicks, and newborn calves.  You spend many many hours riding your bike. You love drawing, walking the dog, and doing detail work like knitting/beadwork/etc.
You are always helpful - on your own terms - but also really adept at anticipating another person's needs and offering to meet those.

You're very sad that you're not the oldest kid in our family and also that you don't have blue eyes. You ask why I didn't birth you first or why you weren't born with blue eyes. You call your brother names and get really really angry with him. We talk about how he has a super power - and that is to get you angry - but the antidote for his super power is to not let it bother you. But this is all really really hard to do. To be fair, many times he unknowingly drives you crazy. Sometimes you forget that the power of your feelings is inside you and that even with big feelings, you're still responsible for your actions. At this point in life though, it's really hard to feel that you can control your response to someone else's maddening behavior. It's a life-long thing that you will probably always be working on. Ask me how I know.

You love hanging out with your friends and really value that connection - even if it's someone you've only met once. You don't necessarily connect with everyone - but you do connect with many and those you enjoy being with, you ask when we're going to see them again - over and over and over. For better or worse we live in a rural area (according to you "this stupid farm") and our friends are far and wide - even our local friends are not always easy to track down and align schedules with. But you've discovered texting and facetime and enthusiastically use both regularly.

You're enjoying various video games and regularly negotiate passionately for more screen time. We talk about how if you insisted on eating green beans all the time, I would say: "you need a variety in your diet", and the same goes with life. We've tried free-for-all-screens, but then life lacks variety. We're still finding our way with this one, for sure.
You insist on a hug before you go to bed every night. And then you stay up late reading in bed. You read fairy books and comics. I don't pay a ton of attention to your reading choices - I'm just so excited that you love to read as much as I do. We were recently at a bog doing a nature walk and you pointed out a pitcher plant. I assumed this information was coming from a recent trip to The Wild Center. But no, you said you'd read about it in Never Girls. So there you go. Read away, my friend. I will suppress even my internal judgements of your reading choices.

It's been a big year for us. A week before your last birthday, our girls went home after living with us for 18mos. A few months later your baby sister was born at home. Everyone kept saying to you: "how do you like being a big sister?" and you would say: "I already am a big sister".
One of the reasons I was so excited about having a new baby was that you would experience normal birth and witness breastfeeding and just baby life. It would all be normalized and you will have a very good idea of what is involved should you choose to birth a baby in the future.

We asked you ahead of time if you wanted to be at the birth. Yes, yes! Of course you did. As the birth intensified, Grammy went to check on you both. We'd done a good job prepping you, because apparently the crazy noises I was making weren't bothering you - besides keeping you from sleeping. You weren't surprised. When birth was imminent, I yelled for someone to go get you. The baby was coming, and I didn't want you to miss it!
You were so excited. You loved holding her and snuggling her and just being close by. I'm so glad she has you and you have her.

We opened our store/coffee shop/bakery/cafe and you immediately took to the role of frequent-counter-person. I have been told, you are part of the charm of the Farmhouse Pantry experience (also known as the "stupid store", when you're frustrated at being tied down to the store's schedule). When you're gone for a weekend (off with a grandparent), we get regulars asking "where is your little girl?" and I point to Rye and they say: "no no, the older one". You impress everyone with your register skills and how well you know the inner workings of the store.

This is the year your neurofibromatosis is going to start impacting our lives. Our pediatrician mentioned a few years ago that she'd like you to connect with a team that specializes in NF at some point. We agreed that we'd go to Boston Children's at some later date.
Well, you're 8 and puberty is coming and now is the time to start that relationship. So we have an appointment scheduled for early July. Coincidentally we had your regular twice-a-year appointment with the local optometrist. He is very thorough and noticed one of your eyes looked swollen. Pictures confirmed his suspicion. There are no nodules visible, just the eye is swollen - not noticeably without the optometrist examining your eyes. Your eye site is still perfect (this is disappointing to you - you want glasses).
So an MRI was ordered, and the optometrist suspicions confirmed once again - you have a fibroma behind your eye, putting pressure on your eye. There's a lot of going back and forth with all the medical players - including a fair amount of: "why does she need an mri? That's really serious, we don't just do those .... so she's going to need an mri as soon as possible, don't wait ..."
We haven't told you yet that there's a fibroma behind your eye. We'll talk about it when we know more and have an idea about what options are - if there are even any decisions to be made right now. Fibromas tend to grow slowly, so we may just be advised to wait and closely monitor its growth.
It's turns out - below your tough shell, sometimes things are really scary - like MRIs. You were rather uncertain - especially when you learned you'd be in the room by yourself. So, unlike our usual protocol of being very up front with you, we're holding back until we have more information.

I'm amazed at how grown and mature you seem recently. Your long and lean, your face is thinning out, your hair is longer .... and then you stamp your foot screeching at me insisting it's all unfair. Or ask me to put your hair in pigtails. It's a funny mix right now -between baby girl and teen.
You have found great enjoyment in cooking - brownies at the store and pancakes at home - are your go-to cooking projects.

You expect the world to work for you and are enraged when it doesn't. You have little sympathy for someone who you deem has done you wrong and will make this clear in no uncertain terms. You are already making an impact on this world. You just haven't realized you have your own super power - the power to make change through your passion, dedication, and logical thinking. You're learning though. Figuring out how to use your power for positive change and learning how to balance that with other people's feelings.

I'm so proud of you.
Thank you for always taking on every challenge, with barely a blink. And for also knowing your limits and reaching out for support when you need it. Just make sure you keep eating when you're hungry and sleeping when you're tired. The rest will all work itself out.
I love you forever,

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