Eight

My dearest Kate,

Only you would prefer to be called Katherine.

So for today, let’s go with, my dearest Katherine.

But it’s habit. I met you over two years ago as Kate, a little tumble of gingery hair with brilliant blue eyes in the back seat of your daddy’s car that evening he drove me to Whistler on your way to Pemberton. You were so excited for your trip, happy to be watching your movies, eager to share the funny parts.  You were learning the days of the week in French, and knew how to say oui, but most especially non.

Two years ago you loved to put on ‘shows’ for everyone,  only you’d get into the spotlight, and suddenly be all too aware of everyone’s eyes on you, and you’d lose your nerve and sing your song to your feet. Oh, but when time came for applause, you’d shine, and curtsey your heart out.

You welcomed me into your life with all the exuberance of a five-turning-six year old. You and Cameron fell into friendship immediately, and soon into siblinghood, even long before Cameron and I moved in.

Oh, some things don’t change. You still have melt downs, though nothing like what I’ve heard tales of. You still love and yet fear the spotlight. You still like sparkly pretty things, dressing up, believing that your doll Sienna is your little sister. You’re still generous with your hugs, and need snuggles sometimes when life just isn’t going quite right. You’re finding it challenging, I think, to adapt to not being an only kid…. And yet you’re doing it so well.

You’re hard on yourself. Probably you’re the hardest person to please that you’ll ever meet. If it’s not perfect the first time, if you have to try (and risk failing), you very much don’t wish to do it. And work,, after all, isn’t fun … it’d be far more fun to write Pee and Poo than spell out your dictee words. You hear the criticisms of the other kids in your class, and take them to heart, without realizing that those kids aren’t perceiving the real you. And so you believe that you’re not smart, you’re not good at reading, you’re not good at French. But what you don’t see is that you’re really a very clever, and quick, little girl.

You’ve grown a lot, too. Not just in height, but that’s quite noticeable. Your face has changed – it’s subtle, and I can’t quite put my finger on exactly how, but it’s more than just losing the flat, round,  And your voice is lower, not quite so shrill and piping, a big kid’s voice. It’s also your mannerisms that have changed. Sure, you often still squirm around and move without thinking about it, in fact you’re pretty much constantly in motion. But if you’re thinking about it, you make gestures and affectations that are social in nature, mimicking friends and family, trying to fit in.

You’re sweet with Cameron … except when you’re  both bickering. But generally you want to be the big sister, teach him, show him things. You want to jump in and keep him out of trouble by telling him to stop doing things. Sometimes – sometimes it’s a little bit too much, too far. Sometimes I lose patience with it, and say, “I’m his mother, Kate. That’s enough. Kate, worry about Kate.” But I do recognize that, while sure you like to be in control of things and people around you (who doesn’t?), you’re also trying to figure out this big sister thing. And let’s face it. Big sisters can be bossy. It’s their job.

This year you’ve done and learned a lot.  You learned to swim, and despite insisting that you could only do it in a pool, you did manage in a lake. You finally got to take swimming lessons, and even gymnastics again. You’ve always got a new song to sing. You’ve learned a new tune on the piano. Your life got thrown into a blender when Cameron and I moved in, and everything about your home, your rock, seemed to change all at once.  You learned some downhill skiing, and even though you’re certain that you hate it, you’re not bad at it. We flew kites. We went camping at a new place, and while you missed your old lake, we did still have a great time. You really got comfortable riding your new bike, and even got to try roller blades. We went to a BC Lions game, tried to catch fish, and caught lots of grasshoppers … only you call them crickets.  You’re in grade two – one of the big kids in a split ½ class.

It’s been a fabulous year, Kate.

I hope eight is even better than seven was.

Happy birthday!

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