Here she is, our amazing NINE year old!
And here is a snapshot of our beautiful Annabelle, on the brink of tweendom.
- She has never been bored, not once in her life. Annabelle’s mind is so busy, active and imaginative that she always has an idea or plan, book she wants to read, new made-up mythical creature she wants to draw, challenge she sets for herself (like learning to draw anime, or perfecting a cartwheel), activity she wants to involve us all in, or research she needs to do. I absolutely love this about her!
- She is fierce on the outside, sensitive on the inside. Annabelle loves all things fierce – big cats and wolves, warriors (she loves bows and arrows and nerf guns), mythical titans like the Greek and Roman gods, and tribal gear. She turns her nose up at flowers and dresses and needs to be convinced to dance. But I think she has become this deliberately, because inside she is sensitive. Whenever something doesn’t go her way, she does something seemingly “wrong,” or is nervous about trying something new, you can watch the complex reaction. Her fierce exterior has turned her from a teary little thing to a stoic kid who takes deep breaths so she won’t lose her cool. She has intellectually willed herself into being brave.
- She loves a challenge. I used to think she’d only ever sign up for challenges she knew she’d win, but she has gotten a lot better at losing and improving – everything from the slide races in Hawaii, to drawing contests she sets up for any willing participant, to fitbit goals, to ensuring she’s the top math kid in the 4th grade. And to making sure she gets into all of the best schools, camps, programs, clubs and opportunities (she’s currently on the tech crew and photojournalism team at school).
- She is incredibly social. For a girl who used to have trouble fitting in in preschool, Annabelle is the belle of the 4th grade ball. She has a big group of great friends who love her, look up to her, and are generally game for whatever adventure or activity she creates for them. She’s always happiest when there are other kids around (even younger and older) and didn’t want to do any activities in Hawaii without all of the other kids. But she’s also very content to hide in her room reading books for hours, so our little preschool mouse hasn’t completely left the building.
- She has it all planned out. She wants to go to Kealing for middle school, LASA for high school (these are both the most challenging magnet public schools in Austin), and Stanford for college – because that’s the biggest challenge she can think of. She wants to be an inventor and an architect. This has taken the place of her past planner-behaviors, where she used to map out Halloween costumes and birthday party themes 2-3 years in advance (and generally stick to them!).
- She needs the numbers. If you tell her we’re heading out “soon” she’ll ask in how many minutes. If you tell her a handful of people are meeting at the park, she’ll ask how many and exactly who. If you tell her the boat fits more than a dozen people, she’ll ask if you mean 13, 14, 15 or more. If you can’t give her an exact answer, she’ll ask you for how confident you are, in percentage points. It’s safe to say this girl is metrics driven!
- She’s surprisingly physical. Annabelle loves a long, challenging bike ride, a swimming race, and as much roller skating as she can get. She is constantly practicing gymnastics, enjoys her YMCA soccer team, and is always trying to stretch to become more flexible. For a kid who always seemed so much more cerebral than physical, it’s nice to see her so active and focused on overall strength and health. And she loves her Fitbit from Santa, which ties the cerebral and physical worlds (and challenges) together!
- She is so GOOD. Annabelle will occasionally get a little wild and crazy when her friends are around, and she doesn’t always listen. She can also be stubborn (and negotiate), and her room is kind of a mess. But in general, she has always been so unbelievably well behaved and simply GOOD – so far beyond any other kid her age (no matter what age she has been). She totally spoiled us as parents (and it makes me feel bad for Clementine whenever Clem behaves age appropriately and we are appalled!). Every parent always wants Annabelle to come over.
- She is so special. Anyone who gets to know Annabelle can see how unique and wonderful she is. She doesn’t charm people like her sister, but is such a rare, beautifully complex human – a profoundly gifted brainiac who has taught herself social intelligence and leadership skills that she certainly did not have at a young age. A cerebral, self-conscious kid who steels herself to step up to public and physical challenges. And a logical girl who can convince her whole class of the presence and magic of fairies and mythical creatures. She is a gift.
HAPPY NINETH TO OUR BEAUTIFUL ANNABELLE!