Seven.7 and Ten.7

This slightly more than 7.5 year old girl (the other day she asked me – “I forget, am I 7 and a half yet?”) has always been such a beach lover. We took a quick weekend away at South Padre island and there was one day she didn’t set foot inside (hurray for outdoor restaurants and peeing in the ocean) for more than 8 hours! She can jump waves and make dribble castles indefinitely, with the excellent concentration you see below.

Aside from the weekend in South Padre, Clem has been attending nature and art camps this month. She likes them, but they are full day camps (9-5) and she is wishing for a little more free time to be with her own thoughts, read book after book, and snuggle. It’s hard to remember she’s still such a little girl when she has such big, wise thoughts, and lately those big thoughts have been a little more anxious than strictly observant. She’ll whisper to me that her wrist suddenly hurt and then stopped hurting, or that the skin on her shoulder feels different, or that she swallowed a cherry pit a few days back and thinks it may still be inside of her. She also notifies me (usually at night) when there’s a strange sound or Eddie does a funny twitch, etc. I was hoping Annabelle would be our only anxious girl, but Clem appears to be following in her footsteps a bit… or maybe it’s just the age.

I think part of Clem’s anxiety comes from her incredible empathy, which I know I’ve written about for ages. The other day she asked me if I thought she’d become an artist, a musician, or a marine biologist. I told her that given how much she cares about all living things, I think she might do well in a career that focuses on others, like becoming a veterinarian or a therapist. Her response:

“Mama – do you know that I don’t just have empathy for living things? Yesterday I cut a piece of string because I thought I was going to use it to make a bracelet, and then I didn’t end up needing it, and I felt so bad for the string because it didn’t have a use anymore! Luckily another camper ended up needing it, so I felt better.”

My heart.

I always say Annabelle is all head and Clementine is all heart, but of course they both have enough head and heart to go around! Switching gears to 10.5 year old Annabelle, she pulled a classic Annabelle move the other week and decided that if we weren’t going to get her a horse or riding lessons (which to her dismay, is non-negotiable), she’d make her own horse. We were skeptical but for 3-4 days, she worked her tail off with old recycled cardboard, bubble wrap, and other things she found around the house… and out she came with Winston!

She eventually added full facial features and a stand, and kept Winston in her room with her. One day, Annabelle set off to nature camp and left a saddle on Winston… and when she returned 8 hours later, poor Winston had been crushed under its weight. She got very upset and we understood, because she had put so much time into him. But we convinced her that this was just Winston 1.0, and now she could make 2.0 much sturdier – maybe even something she could mount. When the tears didn’t dry up, Marc finally got the truth out of herĀ  – she had come to see Winston as a friend.

My heart. Again.

These girls. Growing up so fast but still so vulnerable and complex and beautiful and tender. I can’t get enough of them. Luckily next week I’ll get an extra dose, as it’s Annabelle’s turn for Mama Camp – and we are READY for adventure!

 

And a HALF (ten and seven year old edition)

And then they were 7.5 and 10.5. Milestones were missed because we were up north visiting family, but there’s nothing like a whirlwind trip like that (shuttling these girls between grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles and friends) to realize just what great, resilient little people they are. And little is becoming relative – Annabelle is now taller than Great Gram and Clementine can pick up Gramma!

The girls got along with each other and with countless cousins and friends, making their own fun when they needed to (drawing contests, horse-jumping over creative obstacles, card games) and going with the flow when the activities were laid out for them. They each have their social strengths and play off of each other incredibly well. Clementine hopped off the high dive without hesitation while Annabelle looked on in fear, and Annabelle pulled Clem along with her at Playgrounds and parks, helping her jump right in instead of observing from the sidelines as she does without a big sis to motivate her.

Speaking of Clementine, I had the BEST time with her for a week this month as we embarked in our first ever installment of “Mama Camp.”

Getting a week to focus on all of Clementine’s favorite things – from animals to art, being “fancy” and helping others – was so fantastic. This 7.5 year old tries so hard to be and do her best, whether it’s focusing on a piece of pottery, cleaning up her accidental messes (I think she still averages a spill a day), or making sure that the people she loves (or even people she doesn’t know, or even non-people such as animals and plants) are okay. She cannot be rushed and likes to make sure you fully understand every rationale for everything (there’s a lot of explanation when hanging with Clem), but man that heart of hers just makes me burst with pride… even more than her hugs make everybody burst from… extreme squeezing. She is such a joy and a love… I think she makes everyone around her a better person.

Of course, big sis at 10.5 is no slouch either.

If you’re lucky, she’ll occasionally come in for a hug (especially after nonstop vacation going), but mainly this girl can’t be photographed because she is a blur! A blur of activity and ideas and leadership and creativity and doing. She is not warmth and snuggles like Clementine (unless she’s REALLY tired or her anxiety rears its tricky head) but her “action” is starting to mature a bit and lately she has been more helpful (with little kids, or with reminding you of something you’d otherwise forget), more understanding (there’s less “but Clementine got to do X” in our house… finally!), more directed (she FINALLY uses recipes to bake cakes!) and generally more of a “partner” in my world. Tween-dom is nothing if not complicated, so I’m trying to be more mom than friend as she navigates her changing perspective, but I am so enthralled by the marvelous person she is morphing into by the day. Needless to say, I cannot WAIT till my chance at Mama Camp with Annabelle in August.

This summer is flying by too fast, much like life does with kids who happen to be at a perfect age that makes you want to stop the clocks forever. But we’re doing our best to soak in the magic of it day by day!