Every year on their birthdays, Jeff and I write each child a letter in their scrapbooks. This is Makenna's. To learn more about why we do this, click here.
Happy 9th Birthday! Today is your third day of grade four. You are a Junior at Goderich Public School now, becoming one of the big kids. This year you start taking French and are really looking forward to going to Seaforth to participate in The Gifted Program once a week. It took a bit of convincing, but you are returning for a second year of swim team with The Huron Hurricanes Aquatic Club. Last year the only thing holding you back was diving, but you mastered that at Alexis’ birthday this summer, thanks to the teaching skills of some of your friends. I am glad you have agreed to be on the swim team again, because I really loved watching you last year. You learned so much in such a short time, racing in the butterfly, breast, back and freestyle races. I was so proud of you for being only 8 years old and going into that meet in New Hamburg and giving it all you had. During the swim a thon last spring you swam over 2.5 km in 2 hours. You were just 8 years old! So amazing and you, my daughter, inspired me to run my first 5k race. Because I reasoned, if my 8 year old can swim 2.5k, surely I can run 5k. I really look forward to seeing how you progress this year. You love the water so much this seems like such a good fit for you. It’s tiring, and challenging, but I think that’s a good thing for you and that you need the challenge.
Something else you are going to continue this year is piano lessons. You started last year during school hours with a teacher named Marcia. Gramps bought you a keyboard last year for your eighth birthday and we were all quite impressed with how quickly you picked it up. By Christmas we had Gramps’ piano in our house so you could practice on the real thing. We can see the joy in your face as you play piano and I hope this too is something you stick with for many years.
We are starting to see some changes as you grow into a young lady. During the past year there has been a lot of focus on the boys at school. A lot of discussion takes place about “dating”, who likes who, and who is going out with who. You are just 9, but Dad and I make a point to take you seriously, as we remember what it’s like to be your age. I think it’s really important that you feel comfortable and safe talking to us, about anything. We always make the time to listen and always take you seriously because we hope, really really hope, that doing so now, will pay off as you become older and really need someone to talk to. I truly truly hope either your dad, or myself, or both of us, will always be people you can talk to. As far as you and your friends are concerned right now, “dating” means dancing together at the monthly “Party Rockers” dances here in town geared to your age group. I try to keep the focus on friendship and why making and maintaining good friendships with many different girls and boys is important, but, you being 9, and part of the group of friends you are, are fairly focused on the issues of the day. I know this is just the beginning, I was somewhat unprepared for it to start this early.
I am grateful that you have a truly great group of friends, and that they all have truly great parents, most of whom I know fairly well. I feel comfort in knowing that you are well looked after wherever you are in your busy social life, and truly well loved. You even attended a sleepover birthday party, for a boy, this past year…something that I didn’t really think twice about, because I knew you would be well looked after.
Over the past year, in addition to swim team and piano lessons, you continued with swimming lessons, soccer and were a part of the Goderich Thunder basketball camps. You enjoyed a week long holiday at Matt and Jodi Durnin’s while Dad and I went to the Dominican in January with the Doaks, Johnstons and Gardiners. This past summer you traveled to legoland, Build a Bear and the circus in Toronto with Grandma Tam and Gran and to the Science Centre in Toronto with Gramps and Sylvia, who were married this past February. We went camping for the first time as a family in Red Bay and you didn’t want to come home. You once again attended the Day Camp at Camp Kintail and we saw Mary Poppins in theatre in Grand Bend. After the show you asked me how you could become an actor too. Your cousin Beckett was born last year and is now almost a year old. You love playing with him, feeding him and watching him grow. As a 9 year old you are becoming a real helper now, with Beckett and with Jack. You are going to make a great babysitter in a couple of years. You still aspire to be a teacher when you grow up, although sometimes you consider careers as a chef and a musician too. The sky is the limit with you and I truly believe whatever it is you set your mind to, you will achieve.
Our little girl is slipping away and a young lady is slowly moving into her place. For the most part I am enjoying this transition as I love having real conversations with you about current events, world issues, life, and even tough stuff. I like to challenge you to think critically and outside the box. To make your own path instead of following someone else’s, and to be strong, confident and a girl who is not afraid to take risks. You love math and science and I want to encourage you to embrace that, even though I may not be much help as you get older and learn more.
And yet, you still need your sleep or you have meltdowns. You still pout and whine. You still like to snuggle at bedtime and be read to. When you eat ice cream you still get it all over your face and you still hate to brush your hair (which is why it’s still short). You like to get pedicures, but you don’t want your ears pierced because you are afraid it will hurt too much. You can swim far distances, dive beautifully, walk for miles, but still refuse to learn to ride a bicycle. You still want us around and you are still willing to have tea parties with your brother. Jack adores you and looks up to you so much and for the most part, you are very patient with him.
The next birthday letter will be the “double digits” letter. The “now you can stay home alone for short periods of time” letter. You are just 9, 9 doesn’t sound that old, and yet I know you are starting to grow up now. I look forward to all that’s coming your way this year, and hope it’s a really great year for you. I hope that as you grow this year, you continue to gain a sense of who you are, what makes you special and why being different is a great thing. I will always be there to remind you when you forget, or don’t want to remember, because I remember what it’s like to be this age, in this grade, and at this stage. I will always be in your corner and although it may not seem like it, I will always understand. Nobody knows you like I do and nobody’s got your back like I do.
Wishing you another year full of discovery, growth, happiness and so much fun!
Love you kiddo.