Dear K, 11 years old

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Dear K, 11 years old 1

Dear K,

What you did on your birthday says something about you.

We hiked eight miles out-and-back to Seven Falls at Sabino Canyon. You and a friend chatted during the walk - about school, volleyball, and career aspirations. "Let's both be doctors in the same field and work in the same office," you said to each other.

You especially liked crossing streams - hopping rocks in your hiking boots, with your curls cascading out of the hole of your baseball cap.

The trail suited you more than the paved path. Adventure beats in your blood, pumps through your veins. You have always wanted to go places. You've never been one to turn down any trip - whether to the hardware store or halfway across the world. Sometimes, you wistfully ask if we can move out of the country.

After the hike, we ate at Zinburger and you polished off an entire (adult-size) cheeseburger with bacon and BBQ sauce. Plus, a mint milkshake. You say adults frequently underestimate your appetite - which they do.

Dear K, 11 years old 2

In fact, I think people just plain old underestimate you sometimes. At age 11, you really seem more like 13 or 14. In the best possible way. Words that always come up when others talk about you: "mature," "responsible," and "hard-working." You are temperate and self-motivated, discerning and diligent. You are also exceedingly grateful, with "thank you" often on your tongue.

5th grade is off to a really strong start for you. On the evenings before our homeschool days, you stay up late and check assignments off your list for the next day. Math and art are still the subjects that you love the most, but you are also a keen reader. Over the summer, you stayed up late with page-turners like The War That Saved My Life and Circus Mirandus and The Giver.

On the evening of your birthday, we did our family traditions - compliments around the dinner table and your pick for dinner (homemade pizza). We saved your birthday cheesecake for breakfast because that's how we roll sometimes.

You also spent part of your birthday staging photos for my freelance and editorial work. It's a job that you take seriously and that you do quite well. I give you a list of products/people/themes on a whiteboard and you create artistic scenes. It won't be long before I'm sending you out on jobs of your own.

Dear K, 11 years old 3

I told you that I got a little teary-eyed at your volleyball game last week. The waves of emotion caught me off-guard, but it was because I am so very, very proud of you. How can it be that I have such a kind, intelligent, and thoughtful daughter? I see glimpses all the time now of the woman you are becoming and, put simply, I am in awe. You are a strong and beautiful human being. God's goodness is evident thru you and His light shines brightly in you.

Happy 11, K. May this year be your best yet.

Other things I want to remember:

  • When it comes to clothing, you prefer athletic clothes and tennis shoes.
  • You sometimes say, "My hair looks horrageous." But you mostly like your blonde curls.
  • You are a natural with babies and toddlers (including your baby brother).
  • Foods you never turn down: ribs, twice baked potatoes, smoothies, coffee.
  • Things you are good at: sketching, engineering, putting things together and taking things apart, organizing, designing.

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