I cannot believe you are nine years old already. Where did my preschooler go? It's funny how I can look at you and still see that impish, full of attitude, little 4 year old and find myself thinking "she hasn't changed a bit." In the next moment I look at this beautiful girl standing so tall before me and think "my how she has changed!" I have a feeling I am always going to have to juggle those thoughts simultaneously for many years to come. You have grown so much in the past year and your face is starting to change. All the hints of babyhood are gone. But you are still my baby.
You are an incredibly generous and kind-hearted person. You share everything you have even when it is a special treat and we don't expect you to share. Whenever your sister or brothers need something you are right there to help them even before we ask. If one of your friends admires something of yours we have to warn you not to give it away because you are ready to part with it if it would make someone you care about happy. You are also an incredible helper. Even though you complain about doing some chores, which is actually pretty normal behavior, if I need help you are always willing to offer it. Sometimes, you come up to me and just say, "Mom is there anything I can do for you?"
You have a nice sense of humor and can even make fun of yourself. You couldn't do that before because you took everything so seriously as a personal flaw and couldn't handle admitting to making a mistake. Now you are less hard on yourself about these things. You like silly jokes and riddles and you laugh at the strangest things but I think it is age-appropriate. You are also making "real" jokes these days. The other day, Mama was asking you if any of the girls on your gymnastics team got blue ribbons at their competition and you said they hadn't. Mama suggested maybe next time you could be the first girl on your team to get a blue ribbon. Then Mama turned to Pollito and told him to stop making all that noise because he was being annoying. Without batting an eye you turned to Pollito and told him he could win a blue ribbon for being an annoying little brother. Making those kinds of connections and jokes is a new thing for you.
You even had your very first friend sleep over last month (besides S. who is more of a sibling and B. who is your cousin.) You were so excited to have her stay that you came to me crying after I agreed because you were afraid you were going to "get too excited and mess up." I almost cried at your growing self awareness. You did fine although y'all were up until 2 a.m. and made an awful lot of noise.
This past year we were able to talk with you in greater detail about the challenges you face with RAD and you seem to understand that it isn't your fault in addition to recognizing that it is something you want to get rid of. Sometimes you can even explain to others the struggle you are facing with RAD and the progress you have made. It makes you tremendously patient with your older brother especially because you recognize some of your old behaviors in him.
You still think your brothers are annoying and you love your baby sister. You are an amazing big sister and Milagro absolutely adores you. She spent much of this year crying every time she saw the sign for your school because she knew you would be leaving her. When we dropped you off at school she would start pleading for you to stay or take her with you. You would hug her as she cried and say "I will see you soon baby. I love you and I will miss you. Maybe when I get home I can play with you, ok?" She would say "Ok, yaya" and keep on crying. She wakes up in the morning and your name is the first name that she says when she comes downstairs with me. You look like you will be great friends as you both grow up. You have also started to ask for yet more siblings but you insist they should be girls and foster kids because you "have great moms and other kids need great moms like us!" You know just what to say to us!
You are officially a "bookworm" and I love that. You get that from ALL your moms, me, Mama, and your birth mom all love books and you seem to have our passions. You read everything--including cereal boxes, advertisements, signs in stores, etc. You still get in trouble for sneaking books instead of doing schoolwork or chores and you will choose that over playing with your friends any day. You still love history, social studies and especially historical biographies. You are obsessed with Amelia Earhart, Bessie Coleman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Wilma Rudolph, and more recently Barack Obama. You like to write but your perfectionist tendencies make it a challenge for you at times. You still love all kinds of sports. You love gymnastics and when I watch you out there it is impressive to see your skill, focus, and concentration. You seem so completely at ease when you are out there on the beam or bars. You really like to play flag football and you miss ice skating and dance so we may look at getting you back into one of those.
I am so proud of all that you have accomplished this year. You have reached the point where I can leave you at a gymnastics practice and know that you might have some drama but the coaches will be able to redirect you and it won't result in me being called to pick you up because you are having a tantrum. I couldn't do that before this year. You have also reached the point where you seem to pay more attention to what the kids are doing than the adults so even at football practice I can see you interacting with the kids more than trying to get the coaches attention. This is all great progress for you.
I can barely remember my life before you. We have had many difficult and painful experiences together and there are days when I worry that I won't be able to give you what you need to become the amazing person I believe you are destined to grow into. I wouldn't trade the experience of being your mom for anything in the world. You are such a bright light in my life. You remind me to notice so many things that I would miss if it weren't for you--a spiderweb, the clouds in the sky, the way the light is bouncing off a small puddle in the driveway after a light rain. You make me aware of all that is important in life. I love you more than any words can ever express.