My darling Grace,
As you approach your 9th birthday – and the very last year you will be a single digit – I wanted to reflect on your most challenging year to date.
I can see that sometimes there is a conflict in how you feel and wanting to do the right thing. Well sweetheart, the only right thing in all of this is how you feel. They are your feelings so they can’t be wrong. If people won’t listen to you and your feelings and try and understand and, if they don’t agree, then at least compromise, then that really is their problem.
For many years I was a people pleaser – and sometimes I still am! I know you can be and I don’t think it’s a bad thing but please try not to do it to your detriment. Make sure you stand up for yourself too…in fact…what am I saying?! You do! I know you can be a little bossy sometimes and you need to tone that down just a little bit(!) but you certainly were very brave in telling at least two people in authority how you felt this year. It is important for me to let you feel your feelings and discover who people are and your feelings for them yourself. I have no right to control that. I never have and I never will. You are an individual and need to make up your own mind. I am always here though if you ever want my guidance or support.
I have never lied to you. I may have kept things from you as you are not quite adult enough to understand them yet but, if that is the case, then you will know in time.
This year you have told me that you would like to work with animals and for the RSPCA when you are older. Ross and I got you a membership to their children’s club for Christmas and your birthday card is in support of the RSPCA – something I know you will truly appreciate. You also had the chance to ‘Meet the Meerkats’ at Bristol Zoo a couple of weeks ago. You loved every minute of it and we could tell how relaxed you were – the keeper even commented on it too. You are a complete natural. I am constantly impressed that you feel no fear with animals, unlike I was at your age!
You told me on one of our road trips this year that you would like to have children at the age of 30 and then another at the age of 32. Very sensible if you ask me! I asked you about finding someone who would be your partner and you said that you would find him at the age of 28 and spend two years with him first…just to make sure! I also asked you what you were going to do between now and then, and you told me that you would find a good job, earn good money and hang out with your brother (I hope Ross and I can make that part come true for you).
I have never dumbed down my language for you and as a result you speak eloquently. You have a good understanding of the English language and you have an incredible wit. You have grasped sarcasm perfectly. In fact, when I said that I was still sad about something I’d seen in a film a few days before, you retorted ‘no mum, you are sad!’
You have the most beautiful manners. Quite a few people have remarked on it over the past couple of weeks including Ross’ dad – who doesn’t give out compliments easily. In Waitrose two weeks ago, you were standing in front of some shelves that you believed a lady wanted to get to. ‘Oh, I’m sorry,’ you said ‘would you like me to move?’ The lady said no with a smile, and turned away. She then turned back to me and said ‘your daughter has beautiful manners’. I thanked her, and a tear came to my eye. Definitely one of my proudest moments as your mum – but then, there have been so many and I know there will be many many more.
You are continuing to learn piano – and doing well – and you love Brownies, drama, singing and music. You write great poetry and have even started writing songs, one of which you sang to Ross and I last week and we were so impressed. The tune was catchy and the words had such depth. You excel at maths and you are a little behind on your reading – something we will help you to catch up on this year. Your favourite films, which you have seen twice of each, are War Horse and Les Miserables. Definitely a sensitive soul like your mum! You have also enjoyed watching all of Red Dwarf (with Ross) and Blackadder and even used a quote from one of the episodes in your stories in English. It was the line ‘guilty as a puppy sitting next to a pile of poo’! Ross and I were so proud, and very amused! As was the teacher.
We shared two breaks with two of your school friends. First, back in May, we went to London to stay at the Royal Garden Hotel and your friend, Molly, came with us. You loved it so much there that you told me on several occasions that you wished we could all live there! In August we all went on holiday to Pontins with your school friend, Lucy. We all had a wonderful week of fun and laughter. We did your favourite thing – swimming. Plus, you experienced your first upside down rollercoaster – which was also Lucy’s very first one!
As you started Year 4, the very last year of St Bartholomews, you were given a couple of positions of responsibility. At lunchtimes you volunteered to look after some of the less able bodied children and, because they were short of a person on one of the days, you agreed to do two shifts instead of the normal one. You are also given one of the special yellow hoodies to become a play leader. This means that if you are on duty, you can look out for any of the children who have no one to play with and can either find someone for them to play with or play with them yourself.
You also decided to join drama club and had to move your piano lesson as a result so Thursday’s have become quite busy for you. As well as learning your lines for the part of Sergeant Sue the Pig in ‘Red Riding Hood and the Wolf’, you played the role of Judge Grumps and had to learn the lines for that too. We thought your performances were both fab and you got the role of Judge down to a tee!
This year I know you are going to see many more changes. You are already aware of puberty and, a couple of weeks ago, you asked me to speak to you about this on what would have been your due date – the 12th January. I haven’t forgotten and I will make time for this.
You are going on your first school residential trip in April and then, next September, you will be starting Middle School. At the moment you are still interested in playing with your dolls, holding my hand and giving me cuddles but, with the fact that make-up, the latest fashions and listening to music that really isn’t for me starting to supersede this, then I am well aware that this is most likely the last year where I can still call you my little girl and get away with it.
I intend to make the very most of every second of the year you are 9, Grace Frances Kay.
I am proud of the young lady you are growing into and I can’t wait to see what is round the corner for you next.