Here is what I know about her from having lived with her for 11 years.
She is funny and energetic. She is a leader. People are naturally drawn to my child. She gives off energy and light. She has an enormous heart. She is smart and clever and compassionate.
This morning, she came and sat on my bed - after we woke her to our melodious singing and the opening of her gifts - and told me, "Mom, I just don't think I'm ready to grow up."
Did I mention she's just turning 11? Not hitting the teen years yet.
But she sees girls in her 5th grade class that are taller and curvier than she is. She hears girls in her class talk about boys and cruches and kissing. She knows girls who are ga-ga over boy bands or actors. Some girls have started wearing make up. Some need bras and some have even started their periods already.
My girl is a late bloomer. And we like it that way. She has no interest in boys or make up. She doesn't have crushes on anyone famous. Or even on anyone, period.
She likes to hang out with her friends - boys and girls. She likes to run and jump and play tag and hide & seek. She likes to make up a restaurant and hire her friends as servers and cooks. She loves tae kwon do. She looks up to teenagers in her life and also to adults - but not so much to her peers.
So I told her...
There is no rush to grow up. She's perfectly fine exactly where she is.
Then I told her...
I know many moms who lament the days gone by - when their kids were sweet little babies who cooed and needed to be held. Or they were silly toddlers, figuring out the basics of walking and talking. Or even those early days of school and the first tiny little signs of independence. But me? We're in my favorite year right now. 10 turning 11 has been my favorite time with you, my daughter. I see you growing into this unique person with interesting ideas and plans to make those ideas happen. I love talking to you about politics or how your day went or what's going on with your friends or the things that are troubling your heart. I love your sense of adventure - you are generally willing to try new things, new foods, and discover new interests. I love hanging out with you and going on experiences and adventures together. You've developed your very own sense of humor and you make me laugh every day.
Happy 11th birthday, baby girl.