If anyone asks me what it is like to have a teenager, I know exactly what to say. My complete and honest answer is this: It's one of the greatest blessings in my life. As each year goes by, I am amazed by your beauty, strength, and goodness.
Because you are such an old soul, childhood has never fully suited you. Even as a very young girl, you reacted to life events with a certain maturity far beyond your years. You yearned to grow up, but not in the typical way of children, who seek inappropriate things that are out of their reach. You actually wanted depth and breadth, wisdom and light. In many ways, you have always been an adult in a child's body so it's a beautiful thing to see that you are finally coming in to your own.
Eighth grade (last year) was your best year in school. You had a stellar line-up of teachers and you thrived in academics - diligently applying yourself to Western Civ, Latin, Algebra, Composition, and Logic. Organized and responsible, we rarely had to remind you of any task. Math has always been among your top subjects, but you are also a creative writer and a critical thinker. Indeed, you are the very definition of an intellectual. Your binders are color-coded and carefully arranged for optimal efficiency. Each page is a piece of art in itself - perfect, symmetrical handwriting with elegant headings.
Speaking of art, you have both the gifting and temperament of an artist. Your drawing ability is refined and your skill level has already surpassed that of the illustrators of many of the children's books on library shelves. Your portraits are particularly impressive, capturing the nuances of age and personality. Despite your talent, you are never satisfied with your work - critiquing the slight arch of the nose or the barely perceptible inaccuracy of the lips. When you work, you are all perfectionistic fire - intense focus, flaming inspiration.
Your artistic skills extend far beyond just drawing. You see shapes and symmetry automatically - a skill that eludes me. When you walk in a room, you intuitively understand the layout, the colors, and the textures of the space. You remember tiny details and analyze imperfections. As such, you are hard to please when things are ugly or poorly constructed. Conversely, you are impressed when things are done well (architecture, art, decor, etc).
This past year, you created a spreadsheet of universities you were interested in - unprompted by any adult. As you investigated colleges, you crossed off any that came across as immature, childish, or unnecessarily boisterous. Brochures of students cheering wildly at sports games or lounging around in messy dorm rooms? Those colleges immediately slid off your list! Instead, you took note of schools with high levels of academic inquiry and formality. Business suits, lectures, libraries, and balls are far more your style.
Aside from academics, you enjoy public speaking and will take opportunities in that arena as they come up. At the ACSI Speech Meet last year, you took a blue ribbon for your eloquence, presenting with exceptional volume and grace. You also auditioned for a skit in a local church's summer musical program last summer (2019) and landed the lead role.
You yearn for theatre opportunities...serious ones on stage, not the silly games that are typically played in introductory drama courses. I have no doubt that you could put together a stunning theatrical piece almost entirely singlehandedly - set design, choreography, acting - you're good at it all. In fact, you would make an excellent director. Although we love your small high school (for so many reasons), we sometimes mourn the loss of performance opportunities that are more prevalent at larger high schools.
Although you enjoy speaking, singing, and theatre, you are not loud or outspoken. Instead, you are reserved - a deep thinker. More introvert than extrovert, you appreciate solitude and seriousness.
You act from a deep well of compassion. You will observe the prickles or meanness of a fellow student - and will look beneath the surface, sensing the reasons, listening well. You see the strengths in others, even ones people may not see in themselves. Your genuine kindness and gentleness is evident to all (Philippians 4:5).
Even though you are good at many things, you are hard on yourself - always pushing to do better and to be better than before. It's an admirable quality that will serve you well in life, but keep perspective. Failure is a gift. Trials teach us. Always remember that you are deeply loved - apart from any of your (many) remarkable achievements.
I'm so glad that God made you exactly who you are.
* I write letters to each of my children on their birthdays so that they will remember and I won’t forget. As Sheldon Vanauken so aptly put it, “Writing has something of the timeless about it – a breath of eternity.”
** This letter is more than a month overdue. Happy (very belated) Birthday, K.