Wow, 8. I feel like it took us a lot of work to get here. If I am honest, 7 was not my favorite age for you. Seven is regarded as somewhat of an emotionally downer year, developmentally, and that was not far off the mark for you. Not that you were not often delightful but you did (and still do) take the world quite personally, and I have to admit that it can wear on a person (and on you as well). The upside, if there is one, of all of your sensitivity to the great injustices that you have suffered is that you have extended this sense of raging against wrongdoing to the world around you as well. Your teachers have remarked on more than one occasion about how you speak up for others and call out unkind words or actions or point out ways that we can all be better. Your heart is very big, which means, yes, it does take things more personally but it also beats for more than just your own self, and that is a very beautiful thing.
It has been a challenging year for you academically as well. School is getting to be more, well, school-like, and that can be tough for you. You do like school very much, even if you are not always able to rise to the challenges as easily as others around you, and your papa and i and your teachers and staff at school have been working very hard to make sure that you feel supported and continue to be curious about learning. We did some testing and you do have some attention issues and you are doing some OT work this spring to help and see if we can get your reading and writing a little more organized. As always, you are patient with all of this and do your best and even find ways to enjoy it. I know soon you are going to start to notice how much easier all of this stuff is for other kids – particularly when Hugo starts school in the fall, I am sure, but we are hoping that by helping your put some scaffolding in place you will feel confident enough in your abilities that information won’t be too much of a roadblock for you to get over. You love reading and you love math and you love writing stories, so we want most of all is that those things continue to be interesting and exciting for you, even as you begin to recognize the difficulties they pose for you.
You continue to love soccer. You were excited to stay all day at soccer camp again this past summer and are so fierce and fast and tough. You are starting to recognize how much smaller you are than the other kids (sorry about those constitutional growth delay genes, buddy) but you have also noticed how much that doesn’t necessarily matter on the soccer field. Playing with your older brother all your life has given you skills and advantages that other kids your age don’t have yet and you use it to your advantage as much as possible. And while you are getting a little bored of clinic work this spring, you are super excited about starting on travel team in the fall.
You talk about gender a lot. Mostly you are sad that you cannot grow or nurse a baby, although you acknowledge that it is not altogether to terrible that you will never have to actually give birth. You love rings and necklaces and rings (although they are a bit of a distraction and you never end up keeping any of them on long) and you love deciding which earrings to wear. You and your little brother are excited about wearing sundresses again this summer and you have been impatient with the cold weather we had for too long this spring. You even asked for a navy blue jumper to wear to school, but you haven’t quite been sure about actually wearing it to school yet. You are nervous that the kids will say something to you. It makes me sad that that is what seems to be holding you back, as last year I think you wouldn’t have worried about that at all. Your papa and I try to make sure that you know that we support all of your weather- and location-appropriate fashion choices, but right now you are feeling pretty sensitive about what other kids have to say, so I think you won’t end up pulling that jumper out this year. But you do still love to wear sundresses at home, as well as leggings or shirts or shoes with sparkles or rainbows or anything shiny or glittery that you can find in your drawer.
You loved our trip last summer and just like August, you were really quite excellent in the car. You and August played some weird imagination soccer game or looked out the windows or sometimes did some activity books. You wanted very badly to go on this inflatable water obstacle course even though at the end there was a 10-foot free swim from the course to the side of the pool and you aren’t that strong of a swimmer. I ran over to the other side to cheer you on and you gave it all you had to swim all the way to the edge. You are one tough kid. And it was fun seeing how much you enjoyed everything we visited and saw. You were always up for an adventure and it was so fun being on the trip with you. You especially liked visiting with our friends in Seattle and really look forward to seeing them again some day (we do too).
You are really into riding your bike and you spend most of the fall being put out with me that we almost never rode to school. You even moved up a bike size this winter, which you were crabby about but now are quite good on the new bike. I hope that we can do some more bike riding soon, now that the weather looks like it might actually decide to be spring!
You like playing outside with Zachary and Emmanuel and you are as equally excited to play sports with them (baseball or soccer or frisbee or football) as you are to play imagination games (mostly star wars). This year you were super excited to try snowboarding and you are getting better and better at ice skating. You like playing board games (who was it? is a favorite) and card games (from sleeping queens, to pokemon or magic to exploding kittens). You love the iPad of course and play too many new games for me to count and have been getting into using the computer at home to play games you have learned about in school as well.
You love being read to, particularly as reading is a lot of work for you, but this spring you have started to work on reading some graphic novels by yourself. We read Zita the Space Girl and all of the Worst Witch books together this winter and that was super fun. We have been working on Amulet, but bedtime has been crazy lately and we are very behind. But I am proud of you for working on it without me!
You have been getting into art and drawing more. We got you gel pens like your Nana has and you sometimes will color in postcards, but you have started just drawing freestyle as well. Your artwork at school is incredible – both because you have an amazing art teacher but also because you clearly so very much enjoy getting to express yourself this way. It’s fun to see you sit still for a minute while you work on something.
You get along with your brothers quite well, although you frequently lose your temper and overreact to small injustices. This often gets you in trouble, even if one of your brothers initiated the altercation. One of the things we will be working on over the summer when we don’t have all of the extra school work to wear you out is how you can respond to perceived injustices. We have been working on understanding how it is ok to be upset but how treating everything like an end of the world situation isn’t helpful for you or anyone and intellectually you know that, but I think perhaps working hard all day at school just leaves you too wrung out to do much about it right now.
You love watching Dragon Riders of Berk and Wild Kratts and this year we discovered that we all enjoy Odd Squad. You love going to movies (minions and star wars are favorites) and really wish you could go on more sleepovers. You like pizza and quesadillas but you eat just about anything we ask you to, even if it is not exciting. You like cake and ice cream and cookies and brownies, any flavor but without fruit filling, please. You are funny and silly and loving and you still won’t sleep on the top bunk unless you are forced to. You love the cats and you love your uncle’s dog so much that sometimes we almost think about getting you on before we come to our senses. You are challenging and wonderful and we are lucky to have you.
Happy Birthday, my love!