A lot of parents these days are taking time right when their child is born to write a letter for them to read in the future. That is all well and good, but really proved difficult for me for a variety of levels. But Kaitlyn is turning nine, and I figured it was a good time to write one (probably won’t be the last one I write to her, either).
Today, we celebrated your ninth birthday (a few days early) with a party that had a theme that fits you perfectly…”Wild ’70s.” As I have watched you grow and mature over these last nine years, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think back to the day you were born and smile.
What a special day that was, and a scary one, too. I will never forget the look on your mom’s face when she heard you cry for the first time, and I will never forget the fear that enveloped me soon after (more on that another time), and I will never forget sharing it with such a special group of people. A lot of people came to visit you in the hospital during the time we were there, and more came to visit after we brought you home. Before long, we looked around the house, and it was just the three of us, and our adventure was just beginning.
As a family, we have been through a lot over the last nine years, but we have been through it together every step of the way, and we are closer for it and better for it.
We had a lot of help along the way, especially from your “big sister” Jen. The impact that she has had, and continues to have on your life is profound, and we are forever grateful. She has helped us mold you into the amazing person that you are.
I was scared and nervous when you were diagnosed with Asperger’s, and those feelings have not gone away. While I am still scared for you everyday, I also have your back everyday, and do everything I can to ensure that your life is amazing. I do my best to help people understand you better, because I don’t want you changing for anybody.
I love that you are the person you are. I love that you have embraced being the little hippie child that you are. I love that you are so in love with dolphins that you are already planning on working with them when you get older; I have no doubt that you will make a tremendous difference in the world. I love that you are my “running buddy,” and look forward to running more races with you.
I couldn’t be more proud to be your dad, and I am proud of everything you do and everything you accomplish. Everything you have achieved so far in school keeps me beaming from ear-to-ear, and I can’t wait to share your accomplishments with anybody who will listen.
I know that we clash at times, but that is because we are more alike than we realize, and we know how to drive each other crazy sometimes; I wouldn’t have it any other way. Know that no matter what you do, you melt my heart easier than you realize.
I don’t know what the future holds for you, but I know that I can’t wait to find out. No matter what you decide to do in life, we will always support your decision (even when we don’t agree with it).
The last nine years have flown by, but they have been the best nine years of my life. I am looking forward to helping you grow and mature and become the tremendous young woman I know you will be (you are already well on the right track).
Be who you are, and don’t ever let anyone change you. You are a free spirit, and you are most certainly our “wild child.”
Amber and I are stumped. We are not exactly sure how the best way to approach a particular situation. It is one we suspect that most parents who have an 8-year old are faced with, even in the age of being constantly “plugged in.”
Kaitlyn is tuned in to the world around here. Maybe just a little too tuned in sometimes. I am not referring just to her knowing who the latest popular band is, or what show is all the rage for kids her age (if I were to ask, she would gladly tell me though). I am more referring to the world around her. Kaitlyn is extremely tuned in.
We first noticed it years ago, and as she has gotten older, no matter what steps we take to shield her from stuff, she still has her finger on the pulse of what is going on. And no, it is not because she is searching the internet for it; really and truly, it is because she pays attention to the news when it is on (how many kids her age do?), and then she makes sure to continue to follow things she feels are important. (We did make sure to keep the Sandy Hook shooting a few years ago from her, mostly because the kids affected were in first grade, just like she was at the time. We didn’t want her to be scared to go to school, and she would have been.)
Just this morning, before we left for summer camp, we had on the Today Show like we always do. Of course, the show led with the devastating news of the shooting at a church in Charleston, and Kaitlyn was intently watching the coverage. When I told her it was time to go, she told me that she was “tired of it all.” I asked her what she was tired of. She told me, “of all of the murders and stuff.” Heartbreaking. She then continued on that, because law enforcement officials were asking, she would keep an eye out for the person they were looking for, and she would alert someone if she spotted him. Unreal. The kicker was when she then started figuring out where officials should search for the shooter, basing her calculations off of her knowing were in South Carolina Charleston is, the time of the shooting (9:00pm), and the time it was then (about 7:15am); she figured they should look in South Carolina, maybe Georgia, North Carolina, and maybe Virginia.
Whether it is her reaction to a shooting in Charleston or ISIS (she noted back in September how she was concerned about their activities), Kaitlyn is really in tune with what is going on in the world. Perhaps she is a little too tuned in for a kid going into fourth grade.
While Amber and I may embarrass Kaitlyn a little too easily these days (I did it again Friday night), there are those times, those “little moments,” where we get the chance to enjoy the fact that she is still our little girl. Last night was one of those times.
In what is becoming an annual tradition, albeit not a great one and one that is a tad late this year, Kaitlyn was laid up sick all day yesterday. On a day where being in the pool should have been a must, Kaitlyn spent most of the day sleeping on the couch; if there is one way to tell if she is sick, it is when she naps…the kid is just not one who naps ever (she never really has, not even on long car rides). So while Amber and I worked on prepping the house for her upcoming birthday party, Kaitlyn slept.
At some point, Kaitlyn fell asleep for the night on the couch, and there was no way we were going to wake her up to make her walk to bed (“Get up, it’s time for bed!”). In comes dad. I had to find the best way to scoop her off the couch without disturbing her, and then get her into her room without waking her up. Mission accomplished! She did stir briefly on the walk into her room, but that was only to wrap her arm around mine.
I’ll take the fleeting little moments we still get with Kaitlyn, knowing at some point, she will be too big for me to carry into her room while she sleeps. I know Amber and I appreciate every second of being her parents.
Amber and I have both made a critical mistake recently. In fact, it might be the most critical mistake we have made as parents thus far (I guess that depends on who you ask). And we both are of the opinion that it is way too early for something like this to have happened, given Kaitlyn’s age.
What was our critical mistake with our daughter who turns 9 soon?
That would be having the nerve to put our arm around her. In public. Where people might see. The nerve!
Ironically, both Amber and I made our respective mistakes while out grocery shopping. I guess Kaitlyn can never be too careful about when she might see someone she knows (spoiler alert, she never sees anyone she knows while grocery shopping Sunday morning).
It was inevitable that something like this would eventually occur. The child who we sometimes can’t shake from our hip when we are at the house, wanting us to keep some distance out in public. I just never thought it would happen so soon.
Being the awesome parents that we are, Amber and I saw this as an opportunity. An opportunity to see how far we can go to embarrass her. Turns out, we don’t have to try that hard. Seems that all it takes is the right song playing on the ’90s channel on satellite radio, and Kaitlyn immediately starts demanding that we settle down.
It won’t be long until Kaitlyn turns 9, and it won’t be long until pretty much everything we do embarrasses her in some way. Until then, Amber and I will deal with not being able to put an arm around her in public (we will still do it to bug her!), knowing that she is still her sweet self while we are at the house.
What a year it was, too.
As usual, Kaitlyn was nervous about the start of the year (the whole “difficulty with transitions” thing), and it got worse before the first day when we found out a good friend of hers had been moved out of her class. The early part of the year was a struggle for her as she adjusted to new expectations (gifted) and a new teacher with a new way of doing things. It took a little bit, but Kaitlyn adjusted, and she went from being apprehensive about going to school every day to looking forward to it again, and to really enjoying her “primary” teacher.
Kaitlyn’s first two report cards contained something that she had never seen before on a report card, a “B.” Amber and I didn’t fret too much about those grades at all, and we knew that she would rebound. And she did. She was back to her usual all “A” report card for the third nine weeks.
To top off the year, Kaitlyn had a really strong finish. In addition to all of her reading achievements (see previous posts), she brought home a report card with nothing but the letter “A” on it again! She brought home another Citizenship Award, Honor Roll Award, and her achievement ribbons, along with some coupons to a few local restaurants.
Summer is here now, and Kaitlyn will be enjoying a bunch of different of field trips and activities. She has about 75 days or so to decompress and get ready for 4th grade, and she seems to be pretty excited about it.