Eight: The Age of Graciousness

My dear Flora, my eldest child, my mini-me,

Today you turn 8 years old. Your father and I stand amazed, and happy, and proud.

You are beginning to show a rare grace — I don’t know if I think it’s rare because it’s new for you, my little drama queen; rare for your age; or it’s rare to think of a child of mine, your ever clumsy and tactless mom, as having an emotional grace that I don’t think I ever displayed. Must get that from your dad.

You are a reader and a day dreamer. You still ask questions about everything, and the questions are starting to show more than simple curiosity about the world. Your questions have a sophistication to them, they are starting to reveal a quest for understanding the relationships between things and people and events.

You have such enthusiasm for learning. It’s more than just good grades in school. You pick out books about animals and science. You take a workbook and pencil to bed with you at night — which, I shouldn’t let you do that, you should be *sleeping*, but I don’t fight it.

You also love poetry, which pleases your father and I to no end. You devour Shel Silverstein, every line, every drawing. You’ve decided that the answer to “What’s In The Sack” is ‘people’, which shows insight, and possibly some morbidity. I’m cool with that, after all, I am into dead body shows on TV. I know where it’s coming from, is what I’m saying.

You are also learning to take disappointment in stride, and to not beat yourself up for mistakes. Only a handful of classmates can make your birthday party (which is my fault — late planning and later notice), and you shrug. A couple of your favorites are coming, plus other children you like. When I asked if you wanted to move it, you said, “No. After all, Sunday is my actual birthday.” Here again, you display your mama’s practicality rather than your daddy’s passion.

The only thing I wish for you at this moment, as you start to exhibit your emotional grace and maturity in small ways, is that you learn to deal with your little sister’s needling. This may be a big wish. Siblings are siblings, and no one is closer to you than Kate, and sometimes that drives you right up the nearest wall. Most times, you two are simply inseparable, and you play together patiently and well. But that small percentage of the time when she seeks to get under your skin, she succeeds in spades. My wish is that you learn the fine art of ignoring her.

On the other hand, most of the time, you and Michael adore each other, and make each other laugh and laugh. “Say Flora, Michael,” you say. “Foe-a,” Michael says. “Say sausage, Michael.” “Soo-age.” “Say butt, Michael.” “BUTT!” *laugher* Michael imitates everything you and your sister do, which leads to some very noisy car rides and dinner times.

You are quieter than you used to be, lost in thought more often than you bubble over with questions. You love Pokemon, television, and reading books. You embrace everyone easily and equally (well, sometimes not Kate). Your attention wanders freely — sometimes too freely — but you are kind-hearted, hard working, smart, and beautiful. I don’t think M and Kate could ask for a better big sister, and I don’t think Daddy or I can ask much more of you, either.

Happy birthday, Flora. Keep growing, my lovely daughter, in knowledge and in grace. That is my wish for you for this year, and for all the many more to come.


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