overflowing with words, a river of emotion that can't be contained. I should not be quiet, or let this occasion pass me by. Yet, as Caitlin turned 11 today, I do not find myself terribly emotional or excited. Yes, she is older, but in some respects, has seemed so for months now.
Could it be that the big "double-digit" birthday excitement has passed? Or perhaps because she is not yet a teenager, just a "tween"? It might also be that we are not moving anywhere (yet)? She is starting middle school next week, but, in some respects, really just a change of grades.
Perhaps it is because the grandest discovery this year was a very quiet one. I began to realize through several small discussions that Caitlin has a very strong sense of self. Whether burying herself in books for hours on end, utilizing her vocal talents to pacify her adoring brother, or creating endless characters for her stories and plays, she is happy just being herself. Not only is she happy, but satisfied with her capabilities, and I am terribly envious of that trait.
I remember fretting about a school project one night. Silly, really, but that is what parents do best, right? She had not asked for any help, though that is par with the course. I had recently attended a school function, and was overwhelmed by the discussions of the other parents regarding school projects. It seemed every other parent was way more involved in the project than I had deemed necessary. The extent of the help I was allowed to give for any project was limited to purchasing paper for the printer, or okaying use of a household item for said project.
I resolved to ensure that I was not failing her miserably as a parent, and confronted her. Did she need help? Had I somehow ignored or missed previous protests? Had I totally and completely let her down by simply allowing her to make her own mistakes?
"No, mom, I am fine. I have my work under control and I don't need your help. Also, I am happy with my grades and how I am doing in school. Really, I am."
It wasn't the first time she had said it, but certainly the most she ever said on the topic. As I look back on the year, this calm is what impresses me most about her over the past year. Happy birthday to you, Little C, and may you continue to bloom so extraordinarily wherever you are planted.