Saving Up

Today Julianna turned 9.

Quite a year huh? I’ve been writing these birthday blog posts for a bunch of years for each girl.  I’ve always found that its a nice way to reflect on the year as it relates to each girl; to think about the struggles they’ve encountered, the victories they’ve achieved, and the Oxford commas they’ve written.

Just about an hour ago, Julianna delivered a letter to my wife, with a five-dollar bill in it, that reads as follows:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Thank you for raising me for 9 years now.  I really appreciate it.  If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here right now so that’s why I love you and I really appreciate it.

She also drew a picture of a heart separated into 3 parts (Dad, Mom, Julianna) with a message that says:

Dad, Mom, Julianna = Happiness Forever

So I took the $5 and bought myself a scratch ticket, scratched it, won $100,000, and paid for 1 semester of college for her.  Kidding (or am I).  My wife thanked her for the bribe/payoff but insisted she keep the money.  Obviously we’ve done more than $5 worth of work over the last 9 years.  Its quite insulting that she thinks a fiver is gonna balance things out.

But here’s the thing: Every time she does something in this “realm”, a display of what I’d consider to be incredible thoughtfulness, it wildly impresses me.  We’ve been talking about the birthdays for quite a while, as we commonly do around this time of year (Chloe’s birthday is in 3 weeks).  We’re hosting her birthday party at the house (Karaoke) this weekend.  I can say this with reasonable certainty: When I was a kid, there were zero times when I was sitting by myself, in bed, and thought, “you know what, I’m gonna write a letter to my parents thanking them for having me.”

I might be wrong, but I just don’t think a lot of kids think that way.  As for the $5, one of the topics we’ve “worked on” this year is money.  The girls get an allowance each week if they are well behaved.  With each “installment”, they have to give us back a few dollars that we put into savings for them.  The rest they keep and can do whatever they want with.  They’re both saving up (for who knows what).  I’m not sure either has a great “cents” of how much things cost or what a lot of money is yet other than to perhaps have an idea that they need to save up “X” dollars for “Y” toy.  The $5 for her, I believe, is her way of saying there’s some amount of value that she recognizes beyond just saying thanks.  I’m certainly not confident that I could ever put a monetary value on it so why should she?

Its the symbolism that I love.

Julianna has always had an overly strong sense of empathy, and has always been extremely sensitive, sometimes to the detriment of her social interactions.  Many of her friends enjoy watching movies.  She still won’t go.  Just the other day, she asked me to show her (and Chloe) the movie trailer for the new live-action Beauty and the Beast.  This was before school one day.  That night, I found her crying in her room, after we had said goodnight.  I went in to talk to her and find out what was going on.  She explained that she was upset that Belle’s dad was “trapped” in the Beast’s castle and that then Belle was trapped in there.  She was upset that Belle was going to be scared in the woods when she was surrounded by wolves.  She knows the story.  She knows it has a happy ending.  For some reason, visualizing these types of stories in movie form really gets to her.  Its something we’ve been working on and are slowly making progress. We try not to pressure her or push her towards watching more movies but we know that she’ll love them once she figures out how to get through.

A few months ago, the 4 of us watched the movie Elf.  She made it all the way through, laughing most of the way.  She had one hiccup towards the end when Buddy the Elf is wandering around NYC feeling “alone”.  She struggled a bit but we all made it through together.  Its a work in progress, but you know, small victories.  That should be the worst thing.

I’ll tell you some larger victories:

  • Not only going to overnight summer camp, but loving it and not wanting to wait to go back this coming summer.
  • Learning her times tables
  • Officially becoming much better at doing her own hair than I could ever do
  • Becoming comfortable, and actually pretty good, at riding horses
  • Regularly choreographing dances with her sister
  • Making her bed
  • Helping with the dishes
  • Adding additional friends to her circle
  • Seeing her first Broadway show (School of Rock – highly recommend)

She continues to be a fantastic big sister.  She looks after Chloe and while not perfect, is so supportive and willing to compromise or share.

I feel like I say this every year, and I probably do, and it’s probably always true, but this year, more than the previous years, I feel like Julianna has taken giant steps towards being a real non-little kid type of person.

I regularly have “real” conversations with her about life and life’s things.  We talk about social issues, politics in general (how it works), and anything else that she wants to discuss.

She’s eagerly learning about real life.

She’s happily getting taller.

She’s saving up.

It’s only a matter of time before she’s writing a blog about me and you know when that happens, I’m gonna be charging a hell of a lot more than $5.

Happy Birthday Julianna.