Today Chloe turns 8.
It has been quite a year for her; for all of us really. Last year, on this day, I wrote about how we had brought home 2 new members of the family: Willy and Charlie (kittens). Just over 3 months later, Willy died. He had a rare kitten disease that was undetectable and doesn’t present symptoms until its too late. Chloe was, and is, very close with our pets. She loves animals. She’s also fairly unemotional (outwardly) and always interested in the science of things. She likes knowing how things work. She spends a lot of time introspecting. Both girls handled the news about Willy pretty well but occasionally, she’ll still bring him up. She’ll ask if I think Charlie misses him or if he was in any pain. She wonders. I think it was a difficult loss for her. For what its worth, Charlie and Cassie (our dog) are good friends. The thing that I think bothers Chloe the most is that the animals won’t spend the night in her room with her. They tend to follow my wife and I around. She has asked for her own puppy when she gets a little older, and promises that she’ll take complete care of said puppy, and that is why the puppy will want to sleep in her bed with her. We’ll see.
And so that what the first big event of her 8th year.
Largely, this has been a big personality-growth year for Chloe. She’s always been a tough nut to crack and we’ve told people, “don’t worry, once, and if, she warms up to you, she’s not going to leave your side and she’s not going to stop talking your ear off.” I think she’s softened up a bit this year, meaning, its not quite as difficult to crack her anymore. There are people in my family who I think, for the first time, are really getting to know her. This isn’t because she hasn’t spent time with them but rather, because she’s actually interested, or at the very least willing, to participate.
So 2nd grade started. She got a great teacher who challengers her and makes school fun. School, and learning about things in general, is something Chloe seems to really enjoy. While I think she’s probably already cooler than me (low bar), I think its fair to say that she clearly has a nerdy-streak like I did when I was in school. Recently, at the latest parent-teacher conference, her teacher told us that she was a leader in the class. Aside from the part where we found out that she’s not, like, flunking, this was the best part. She’s not the type to stand up in front of a group and “show” herself as a leader. I always suspected/hoped she’d be the type that leads by example. This was a close confirmation and made me feel incredibly proud.
The girls both have small whiteboards in their bedrooms. One of Chloe’s favorite bedtime activities, after she’s brushed her teeth, gone to the bathroom, gotten into pajamas, written blog posts, etc, is to pretend that she’s teaching a class about whatever it is she learned in school that day. Sometimes I get to sit and be a student. Sometimes I hear her giving the class to imaginary students in her room or stuffed animals. She’s teaching us/them about habitats or addition or how to break a sentence down or what baby sloths look like. She loves it and if you’re not careful, you might actually learn something.
And then she wanted to come with me to her first Red Sox game. Chloe gets nervous in big crowds and doesn’t like people in costumes (even though she knows there’s a person). As a result, Wally the Green Monster and Fenway Park in general, are not her cup of tea. When she said she wanted to try going, I was all in. If we stayed for 1 pitch that would have been good enough for me. Well wouldn’t you know, she had a great time and couldn’t wait to go again “next season.” Victory.
And then Thanksgiving time rolled around.
[takes deep breath]
I’m a huge Star Wars nerd. Its always been my thing. I love everything Star Wars.
A few days before, my brother-in-law asked to borrow my Star Wars DVDs. His family (my sister and their kids) was going to watch the 7 movies that had come out. This would be their first time. Great for them. [mild jealousy]
I had resolved myself to the fact that my kids would likely not love the same things that I love and that is totally fine. They both enjoy going to Red Sox game(s) – see above – but aren’t huge sports fans. They’d just as soon cheer for Tom Brady as the 2nd basemen for the Red Sox and Dustin Pedroia as the quarterback for the Patriots. Its fine. They have their things and I have mine.
We were with the Star Wars viewers for Thanksgiving. I decided to take a big swing of the lightsaber.
“Chloe, do you want to watch Star Wars: A New Hope tomorrow? If you love it, and I think you will, we can then go and watch the rest with your cousins.”
“Yeah that’s ok. We can go watch Zootop…wait, what?”
[not sure what happened in the next few minutes – I may have blacked out]
The next day rolls around and we sit down to watch Episode IV. I don’t know how to handle this. What if she hates it? WHAT IF SHE LOVES IT? While she’s certainly invited, Julianna won’t be joining us do to her lack of interest in movies.
And it happened. She’s on the edge of her seat the whole time. She’s laughing at C-3PO and R2D2. She’s wide-eyed with Darth Vader. The first time she sees a lightsaber ignite, she practically falls off the couch.
The moment it ends, she wants more. SHE WANTS MORE FUCKING STAR WARS!
Well we had to immediately go to the bookstore to get a Star Wars encyclopedia of characters so she could study (her idea).
The next 2 days, we went to my sister’s house and watched episodes V and XI. She couldn’t get enough. I’ve seen these movies more times than I’d like to admit but watching kids that age experience it for the first time was something really special. They were laughing hysterically when they saw the Ewoks’ antics. We intoduced Star Wars Legos (already a Lego fan of course) to the mix. She spent all her non-Star Wars viewing time reading the encyclopedia and asking thousands of questions.
The plan was to watch episodes I, II, and III the following weekend. They had various soccer/basketball commitments and had to put things off. Chloe couldn’t wait. I went and picked up the DVDs and we started in just us. Now, its widely accepted in the Nerdery that the prequels aren’t wonderful movies but she LOVED them. She loved Jar Jar Binks. He was made for kids. She could barely sit down during these movies; totally enthralled. She just wanted to keep going. Eventually we finished the prequels, leading to episode VII, The Force Awakens. She loved the character Rey (before she saw the movie) and couldn’t wait to see what she was gonna be like in the story. A strong young woman, who is a bit of a loner, Chloe couldn’t wait to see the story. At this point, we’ve been playing with various Star Wars Lego sets and reading various books. She’s all in.
She loved it. Then she asked to see Rogue One. Rogue One was just about to come out in theaters. I told her that I’d have to see it first; that it looked a bit more adult than the other movies. I saw it and reported in. Chloe and my sister’s kids had now seen the previous 7 movies and decided, all together, that they’d like to see Rogue One, all together. So we went. The 3 of them, my brother-in-law, and I.
This was some next level stuff. It was one thing to get to watch these movies with one of my kids on the couch. Its a totally different thing entirely to get to go to a movie theater and experience Star Wars.
They loved it. I loved them loving it but would have loved them just experiencing it.
Now we talk Star Wars quite a bit. We are discussing what we think will happen in Episode VIII, The Last Jedi. We discuss how we’re going to go to Disney World (soon) and how we’re going to meet Chewbacca. As an early birthday present, my aunt gave her a Chewbacca t-shirt. She’s already planning on wearing it the day we’re going to Hollywood Studios.
This whole Star Wars thing is probably as much, if not more, about me as it is about her. Like I said before, I had totally resolved myself to not having things like Star Wars that my kids would also love and that was totally fine. I actually quite enjoy that they have different passions from mine. I get to do their things with them. This Star Wars thing is an absolute bonus.
And here we are. She’s 8, coming out of her shell, and taking over the world.
She’s a force to be reckoned with.
Happy Birthday Chloe.