Is taking off. Things I have been waiting for, patiently and not so patiently, over the last few years, are suddenly happening.
Suddenly, she is more confident in the pool, jumping in and going under water with the Gutsy Dad. Having tea parties on the bottom of the pool. Paddling out on her noodle to make new friends.
Suddenly, she is recognizing type and words as more than just letters. She is associating more complicated, blended sounds with letter combinations. She is barely, just barely, starting to read. I can see the caverns of her mind opening. I know she can sense what the ability to read will mean. She wants to practice reading all the time; she wants to be in the cavern. (She still does not believe me that reciting a beloved book from memory is not reading, however.)
Suddenly, she is pushing down on those pedals without hesitation or self-defeating remarks, and she is taking off, biking around the cul-de-sac and begging to ride with the neighbors. She is finally learning first hand that hard work and practice pay off. (She was struggling to take our word on this one.)
She delights me with her independence. She kills me with her independence. When she gets home, she runs first to her friends and their mothers, and then to her sister, and then--finally--to me. She lovingly hugs and kisses me goodbye at the bus stop in the morning, but in the afternoon she puts on a show of rebuffing me.
She is bursting with creativity; has a million new ideas of things to make every day.
She always, always wants to be part of the crowd, part of the fun.
She is crafty. She is thoughtful (as in reflective). She prays about a lot of things, for herself and for others. But she wants it her way all the time. She wants the first turn, the preferred color of cup, to be handed her vitamins before her sister is handed them, to choose two books to her sister's one, to always have a clean, purple dress.
She has an unpredictable temper. (Hmm.)
She has a huge heart. There is room for everyone in there.
She's on fire: "Mom, the best thing happened at school today. We went to the computer lab for the first time, and it was AMAZING!!!" "Mom, can we please, please build a hair salon?" "Mom, can I please, please be in charge of the grocery shopping?" "Mom, I wish I could live at Lily's house, but without you there."
"Mom, I just really, really love you." I just really, really love you, too, kid.
I want both to shelter her (already she has come home in hysterical tears because she was not chosen as the "Dancing Queen" in P.E.) and to push her a bit more. But neither seems appropriate.
In the end, all I can do is just let her be herself. And to love her tremendously even when she wears me out.
I often say to Jillson, "Never forget how much I love you!" and she always responds: "Mooom. How could I forget THAT?" Ok. Phew.
(All photos are from July and August 2011.)