Monday, July 6, 2015

A Letter From Your Mother on the Occasion of Your 9th Birthday

Dear Clio,

I find myself telling people that we are in a "golden age" right now.  You and your sister are big enough to meet your own basic needs--you dress yourselves, feed yourselves, entertain yourselves, and you ni particular love to get up on your own and start the day independently.  At the same time, we have not waded into the waters of adolescence, and the emotional pitfalls that come with it.  We have not encountered mean girls.  No hearts have been broken.

I think you are in a particularly stable place.  You just completed your leadership year in Fox Den.  You have basically had the same friends for 5 years (as I was reminded today at your birthday party by a card from Lizzie.)  You are doing all the same camps this summer as last, and you are going into your third year with the same piano teacher.  You got your three year medal at dance (oh, how you have been counting down to that!  And I'll tell you, you LOVE proof of accomplishment.  You recently told me that you want a shelf in your room to display your "medals and certificates.")  I can count on you to do what I ask, and to understand when sometimes our rules are different.  You are (mostly) gracious when I ask you to stay at the table where people are still eating, even if others are already off to play. You are (mostly) kind and generous with your younger cousins.  You have a (fairly) even-keeled temperament, but I think so much of your calm these days also comes from the lack of change.  Change is not your thing.  It's taken me a while to realize this--I always focus on Eleri when it comes to transitions--but as it turns out, YOU would prefer to have things be just how they are.  You are the child who will make someone move if they have unwittingly taken your seat at the table.  You are the one that will re-read book 72 in a series before giving a new author a try.  You are the child who cried when we painted the house, and still refuses to acknowledge the new facade as "your house."  (Though at a point I think this is not about change, it's just your stubborness kicking in.  You are saving face by sticking to it, and oh, my darling, this is another one that you got from me.)

We finally agreed that you could have your own rooms.  You have been asking for years but Eleri didn't want to be alone, so--yup--I asked you to stay at the table, metaphorically speaking.  And you have.  Even when she is the one singing loudly at night and keeping you up.  Now she is ready and we have all agreed, and I had this funny moment where I realized I sort of had things backwards.  I thought you would move into the guest room, but you guys have decided, and it is so clear:  Eleri will move in to the guest room because her favorite thing is whatever is NEW.  Her favorite toy is whatever she got most recently.  And you will stay in your room because you want THE SAME.  You want your twin bed and you want it right where it is.  (You do want to change the color though, which also makes sense.  You want to paint it green--your favorite color; actually, dark green, so it will be like a jungle.  And you know, you were NEVER happy when I chose the pink paint in there, and you were only 4 or 5 at the time.)

So I guess what I am saying is, all quiet on the western front.  (Why do I revert to these cliches and book titles?)  But it will be interesting come fall when everything changes.  On your last day at Bright Water, you sobbed all the way home.  I mean, inconsolable.  (I would be remiss if I didn't mention that before that, in the class skits, you recited "Ebeneezer Bleezer" as an example of end rhyme and man, did you do a good job with the longest poem ever written, even with all those people looking at you.  And Ms. Meghan did remind us, when she gave you your flower and sent you over the bridge, that when you entered Fox Den 3 years ago you could hardly speak your name in front of a group!)

I am pretty certain that you will love Lake Country.  The art classes, the land school, making costumes and sets for the EII play--this is such a good fit for you.  I'm sure you will make friends pretty easily.  But I also understand that, like when we painted the house, we are taking your history away, and that doesn't sit well with you.  I feel guilty that I am making you make this change.  I still remember exactly who was the new kid in each grade (partly because I befriended each and every one of them), and I understand there is comfort in being the one who knows the ways of a place; the one who can have the comforting wing, rather than being taken in under it. When we first brought up the possibility of a school change in February, to prepare you for your school visits, you told us that you would stay at Bright Water FOREVER.  But your position on this has softened, and I think you, like me, have a passion for Bright Water and love that place and want to see it work, for all the incredible kids and families that are there, and for all that you have put into it.  But I think you, like me, understand that this is a change we need to make for OUR family.

Or maybe I am projecting.

Miss Clio.

Cousin Jamie told me yesterday, at the big 4th of July party at Nonny and Papa's, that you are "so astute."  His 12 year old son Joey was in the pool and all the smaller kids were jumping all over him, and apparently he couldn't catch his breath.  Jamie says you put your arms out--the international symbol for stand back!--and told the group that Joey was having trouble breathing.  You noticed someone in trouble, and you immediately stepped in to help, even if it meant getting a group to stop having their fun.  This is (one of the things) that makes you so special.  You're such a good kid.

I was thinking earlier that in a way, I have less to say this year in this letter.  But I think that's good.  No drama.  No pretense.  You are who you are: we just know you better now.

So much love,


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