this year you turned 9 years old. your last single digit year of your life. wow. two years away from middle school (didn’t you just start kindergarten?). halfway out of the house (weren’t you just born?). i can hardly believe we’re here already. if you could just please slow things down.
being 8 was a pretty good year for us. rather pleasant, in fact, for the first time in a great long time (oh, since you were 2 i would say). it’s not that you have been awful forever, but your other ages were very challenging in ways that 8 was not, and it was nice to enjoy you more often than otherwise this past year. whatever it is about 8, it seemed to be a break for you from always coming up against everything else going on, and that made it generally more endurable for everyone around you. of course you had your bad days, we all, do, but overall, 8 was pretty mild as far as growing pains go.
you started your first season of travel team this past fall and you loved it. your team was not particularly good. in fact, i think it would be fair to say that some of your teammates were in fact quite terrible, significantly impacting your team’s record. you were very philosophical about this and really seemed to grasp that while it is definitely fun to win, the most important part at this point is to have fun and to give everyone a turn to play. while you certainly wished that some of your teammates were a little more skilled, you didn’t ever begrudge them the same opportunities to be on the field that you had, even if it might mean a better chance of a win.
you enjoy playing goalie and you do pretty well, although eventually you really would prefer to get out there and in on the action. you are a bit, as papa calls you (and as we have heard you call yourself), “uncoachable” – meaning that once on the field, you tend to do what makes the most sense to you, not what someone may be advising from the side. if ever there was a league to thrive like this, you have found it. and a good thing, too, as it has fostered a strong confident and creative streak in you, that you can really see when you play. you are brave and strong and go after the ball as if you know exactly what will happen once you get to it. and sometimes that is even true! i don’t watch you play much – partly scheduling from needing a break – but every time i see you play i am more impressed than the last time. you’re getting better and better by leaps and bounds, growing into yourself as a player and into your passion for the game.
you seem to still like school. you remain fairly quiet and reserved, which makes your teacher crazy, and she spent a good portion of the year trying to get to know you. you were very tolerant of this, if not enthused by her interest, and eventually rewarded her with a soccer story or too and she was thrilled. you enjoy the kids at your school (mostly max, angelo, rye, and jethro) and enjoy meeting up with kids after school on the play area (you often play this game that involves throwing a kickball against the side of the school and trying to catch it. it doesn’t sound very exciting but you and many kids on the playground love it). you still want me to come to school events and be your chaperone and of course i go every time i possibly can. some of the kids are already mortified by their parents and i’ll take your wanting me around as long as possible.
you still love hanging out with lucas and eamon and anand and euan. you love seeing graham when we get together with those friends and you occasionally still see old friends (like simi or ezra) around the neighborhood. you love playing soccer with friends the most, but you’ve all also started inventing complicated-seeming games of tag and catch and other things that involved rock-papers-scissors and healers and referees and i don’t know what else. but when we get together with friends, all you children sneak away somewhere and are not seen until we demand you come and eat something (and even then you straggle). if you have conflicts, you seem to work them out with each other fairly easily. you are all very different from each other these days, but because of time and familiarity have forged ways for meeting in the middle quite happily. it’s lovely to see you with these old, old friends.
you love soccer, but you also love reading. you occasionally will write up complicated programs? stories? flow charts? something on paper that you and calum will discussion in great detail. you still don’t love crafts, but will consent to doing the occasional art project here or there, particularly if it involves star wars. you still love star wars, the dragons of berk, and occasionally slugterra. you complain about having to watch wild kratts when it is calum’s night to choose but you watch it (and enjoy it) anyway. you love playing games on the iPad, including clash of clans and lego star wars, but these days you play a lot of fifa and occasionally madden football and a few other sports games here and there. you will play wii all day when you can get it and are impatiently waiting for the discussion about whether or not the family can purchase our own once hugo turns 4. you like riding your bike and playing on the playground, although some days you are just as likely to walk around talking with lucas as you to play an active game.
you love reading books and would read at every meal if we left you. your favorites are graphic novels but you like chapter books too. mostly you like fantasy and sci-fi – wizards, magic, jedi, dragon, zombies etc, but you will read just about anything i bring home if it’s new. you will re-read also, if there is nothing else. we’ve hard to start roaming far afield from our little library, since you’ve read just about everything there. you bring home your scholastic book order forms with your desires circled and i do my best to order them from the library for you.
although you would prefer not to be, you are helpful around the house. you put your clothes away, put your dishes away, help unload the dishwasher when asked, clean almost the entire downstairs bathroom by yourself, make your own lunch, help clean up after your brother(s), and carry the laundry up and/or downstairs for me. you can be trusted – mostly – to keep an eye on hugo in the backyard and are good at walking calum home from the bus safely. you can go the the playground with calum or by yourself and you can walk around the block to get a ball that’s been accidentally kicked over the fence into our diagonally-adjacent neighbor’s yard.
this year you’ve gotten really into music as well. we got an old iPhone 4 for you and you are allowed to listen to spotify on it (and use it to take weirdo photos/vidoes of your brothers). you love listening to minecraft pop song parodies and making spotify playlists. there have been many an evening papa tried to listen to spotify on his own phone on the way home from work only to find that you’d already commandeered it.
although you have a lot of conflict with calum, you love your brothers and they love you. they make you crazy but you also are always organizing them into some kind of activity – usually football in your room in the winter and then some kind of sports game in the backyard. hugo often foils your plans by being 2 but calum is almost always willing. it’s tough when you fight, but more often than not, you seem to at least try go get along. when you want to be rid of them, you will bury your nose in a book, which is infuriating to calum. but big brothers need a break sometimes too.
it’s been a busy but wonderful year. i’m so proud of how you are growing. happy 9th birthday.