Eleven years old
I held your hand tonight in the van, for miles down the dark, rainy highway on our way home from your little brothers’ birthday dinner. I squeezed you tight and thought you’d let go but you just held tighter. We’d been talking birthdays and gifts and Kenya. You talk often of your friend there, your sponsored child who lives across the world from us. She is never far from your thoughts, your heart. But especially today. She’s just about to have a birthday too, the exact same age as you. I doubt she’s ever heard the term “tween” even if that’s the category her age falls into. I also doubt she’s ever heard of Playmobil toys.
You have been saving for a long time for a very specific, sizable Playmobil set. One with cows and a milking room and all sorts of cool farm stuff. Tonight on our rainy day home you told me you’d been thinking. That instead of wanting that set that you wanted to put that money toward the trip you plan to take to meet your African sister-friend in about two years.
You also asked if you could request that for your birthday and Christmas you simply get money toward that same goal instead of presents. You explained why, having thought it all through quite obviously and knowing the cost would be great and it would take some planning, some setting aside of certain things in order to be able to go. You told me you really didn’t need more presents but that you just wanted so much to be able to go to Kenya.
That’s when I took your hand in the van. With tears and a heart plum full of love for you, my oldest daughter, I told you you were beautiful…that your heart was beautiful…that I loved who you were and how you cared about the things that matter most. It was one of those moments where everything is crystal clear and you don’t want to forget a single detail. You aren’t one to say what you don’t mean and I knew as you spoke that you meant every word.
You are indeed a beauty. Inside and out. We are insanely blessed to have you as our first born. The gift you are to my life, to our family is beyond any measure. You spent your first weekend as an eleven year old sewing. First pillowcase dresses for girls in poverty in Africa…then sewing matching dresses with your dear friend, dresses that you wore together to church on Sunday.
I’m well aware we are on the cusp of a new era of parenting as we creep closer to the teen years. While that will hold its own set of wonder and challenge, for now I’m savoring the girlhood just a bit longer and relishing what we have right now.
So grateful that you are here.