Today Chloe turns 9.
A few months ago, I wrote a post largely about Chloe’s most recent evolution, including some of the challenges she has faced this year and some of her achievements and accomplishments. These birthday posts are generally reserved for a year-in-review type of thing unless it happens to be your 10th birthday. A few weeks ago, for Julianna’s birthday, I decided to do a “special edition turning double-digits post.”
I was re-reading what I wrote about Chloe in “A Million Dreams” and decided that it really sums up a lot of her previous year and I don’t want to repeat all of that again.
Every kid has rough patches. Chloe isn’t an exception to that rule. Like I’ve written before, this year, within her context, has had some ups and downs, mostly around social interactions. Certainly there have been more ups and than downs but we as a family have always taken the approach that honesty is always better so I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that she has had some challenging moments. We’re working on it, figuring things out, being patient, and making progress.
For years I’ve described the girls personalities, compared to each other, as those of a dog and a cat. Julianna, like a dog: unconditional love. Chloe, like a cat: you must work for it but when you earn it, she’s all yours. I realized that maybe I have it a bit wrong. Chloe, who plays the part of being unemotional, is actually incredibly sensitive. She cares what people think about her. She wants to always succeed and gets down on herself when she doesn’t, and sometimes even before she tries, because she anticipates that something might be too challenging. The irony is, she rarely fails. She’s good at almost everything she does (and she’s the first to tell you once she’s done it – with a smile on her face).
Sometimes, when I’m having a conversation with her, if I didn’t know better, I’d say she was 18. I have to remind myself that she’s still much younger; still trying to figure out how the world works. Her intelligence blows me away, and not just because of facts that she knows. The way she figures things out, and reasons, is occasionally startling. You should try giving her tough math problems and no paper.
My wife and I still alternate bedtimes as much as we can. When its my turn to do her bedtime, I can’t wait for her to give me a lesson on her whiteboard about whatever she learned recently. The other night, I was having a fairly unreasonable back spasm situation. I was sitting in her room for bedtime and she decided that tonight’s lesson was going to be a two-parter: part 1 involved diagraming the structure of a back, including the bones and the muscles, and then how a spasm works. The biggest mistake she made was when she spelled the title, “spazem.” Otherwise, she was pretty spot on. We then moved on to an interactive discussion about alliteration.
And here’s the thing: We all have qualities we like to spotlight for others and other qualities we prefer to hide. For Chloe, her brain has always been what she’s been comfortable spotlighting. Watching her brain work is a constant delight. Her heart, and the affection and empathy that go along with it, have typically be relegated to the background for her but there’s been a change recently and I believe that some of the emotional ups and downs we’ve gone through recently are due to her deciding that its ok to let that part of herself out; and be proud of it. She’s learning to share the other, incredibly beautiful part of herself.
Every now and then she will randomly come up and just give me, or my wife, a hug. There isn’t a particular reason. She just wants to give a hug. The night of the back “spazem” lesson, after we were done and I tucked her in. I started to lean down to give her a kiss good night and she stopped me. She knew my back was bothering me. She took my hand and gave it a kiss.
Please don’t get me wrong: there have been far more great than not great moments this year but these are challenges that we’ve faced. I’m incredibly proud of the things she’s achieved; of the new friends she’s made; of the progress she’s making in all aspects of her life.
I look at her and I see so much of myself. I look in the mirror and I see so much of her and so I know she’s fine. As an aside, if I’m being truthful (and I am), I dread the day when she’s officially smarter than I am. I suspect that day is coming sooner rather than later. At that point, we’re all in trouble.
Recently, she came home from school and told me that a few boys in her class asked her to take her glasses off so they could see “if she looked better” without them. She was a bit upset about this. I don’t blame her. We work very hard on teaching the girls to be confident and proud of who they are and happy with what they see in the mirror. This is one of the things that kids deal with: other kids.
This same group of boys, apparently, also recently told her that because her birthday is April 13th, which happens to be a Friday this year, it was bad luck. She asked us why Friday the 13th was a bad day.
“Friday the 13th is bad luck? I think not. April 13th is the day you came into our lives. It is the day you joined our family. I’d say it is the opposite of bad luck.”
I’d say its good luck; one of the luckiest days.
Happy Birthday Chloe.