Nikki turns 8 tomorrow and as she’s having her first sleepover (ONE FRIEND. Those of you who invite more are B-A-N-A-N-A-S.) tonight I decided to write her birthday entry today. While things are still quiet and I’m not curled up in the fetal position in the corner mumbling about nail polish and rainbow looms.
This has been a big year for her. This seems to be the year she went from being a kid to a…KID. In the sense that she’s showing way more signs of getting older than she is of being young. The last of the preschool habits have faded and we now see the constant reminders that the teen years are around the corner. She plays soccer with strategy and aggression that is targeted instead of just running down the field to score with reckless abandon. She writes using paragraphs and punctuation. She reads books with absolutely zero pictures. She discusses running for student government next year and wants me to take her to the art museum for her birthday. She’s constantly being punished for sassing us and speaking in a tone that would warrant a slap in another generation. She’s dressing more for comfort than for style because her life is active and she has some running to do. But she cries at night about being picked on for having freckles and hairy legs. She started a bullet journal. She read her first Harry Potter book.
I often say that Nikki has the combination of personalities that could easily turn her into that bitchy executive that takes no prisoners as she buys up the world and sells it out into smaller pieces like a monster gobbling up the countryside. She could be successful but also terrifying. I pray I’ll never have to answer to her some day.
But she’s still so very sensitive. She easily gets embarrassed and often gets her feelings hurt. The worst punishment is to yell at her in front of her friends. Her worst embarrassment is when she cries in public. She’s very dramatic and gives the slightest of negative that weight of the world and lets the smallest incident ruin a day. If she gets in trouble for being an asshat to her brother, she wails about being the WORST SISTER IN THE WORLD! If she gets in trouble for sassing her parents she stomps off and says, “I’M THE WORST KID AND NO ONE SHOULD LOVE ME.” If she gets in trouble for forgetting something at school she’ll scream, “THIS IS THE WORST DAY EVER!”
She lives only in extremes.
She’s also a thinker. I’ve worked out a lot of my “How Do I Talk To My Kids About…” issues with her. When we’re cuddling in bed at night is when all of the Big World Questions pop into her head. We talk about religion and what Momma believes versus what the kids at school that says she’s not going to heaven believe. We talk about gay marriage because she knows it’s something our family takes very seriously but when it comes up in school she’s still very much the minority who doesn’t think gay people are gross. We talk about politics and how – no matter who we vote for – the President is someone to be respected and admired and I’ll have her write the next president, even if I don’t vote for him. We discuss death a lot. She asks about my Dad and I tell her I don’t believe he exists anywhere but my heart but that is okay. We discuss heartache and how I still cry sometimes thinking about him. We discuss goals and training and studying and she wonders how people just don’t do their homework and has a hard time understanding how that doesn’t make them sociopaths.
But will all the indicators that the teen years are around the corner, with the drama and the sass and the eye-rolling and the deep-thought pondering and the big-book reading…she’s still very much a little girl who needs nightly snuggles and reassurance that it will all be okay. She needs hugs and kisses and stuffed animals to keep her company.
I very much hope I don’t screw things up as she gets older and our personalities clash, I want to stay this close to her forever. I was raised as the only girl in a house of boys, and in this house she’s my only female companion. I need her as much as she needs me right now, but I fear the day that’s no longer true.