Just like that, you are twelve years old. Things are changing quickly these days: new school, new friends, new feelings. This journey is yours, but we're all along for the ride with you as well. As you experience new situations, so do we, albeit in an entirely different way. When we brought you home, I remember thinking that I had absolutely no clue what to do with you. I figured it out, but diapers and baby food all seems easy compared to what's coming now. (Lack of sleep was not easy. Truly. No sleep almost killed me.)
One of the things I love the most about you is how loving and inclusive you are to everyone and everything. You came with me to say goodbye to Judy even though it broke your heart because you knew both Judy and I needed you. You make both Minny and Honey know how much they are loved, and whether you realize it or not, you make Dallas feel important and adored, too. From the time you were a little girl, you have never met a stranger. You're the first to welcome someone new to your class or talk to the kid at the park who is playing alone. Often before I knew it, you were dragging your "new best friend" over to meet me and then running off just as quickly to play. I want you to always be a kind person - always. I don't want you to forget, though, that you matter, too.
My advice for you in this new year of your life is to keep love, kindness, and acceptance in your heart, but take no guff. Hang on to the friends who build you up instead of tear you down, and be sure you build them up, too. Ignore the meanness and jealousy that inevitably pops up in the coming years because when it's all said and done, none of it really matters. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Be strong enough to walk away from it with your head held high in the knowledge that you're on the side of good. If people make fun of you for that, so be it. That makes it easy for you to recognize them as people you neither want nor need in your life. Remember what Dumbledore said, "It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends."
I know that you know all of this; we talk about it a lot. When you're in the middle of it, though, it's hard to remember exactly what to do or how to feel. This is where it gets hard for me and for most parents. My instinct is to swoop in and fix it all so you never have to feel any pain or disappointment. Of course, realistically, that's not possible nor is it healthy. I have to loosen my grip a little and let you make your own mistakes and learn from them. Man, that's hard. I know that I have to let it happen now so you feel confident making your own decisions in the future. You can always come to me for help or with questions or just to talk: I promise that I'll be your soft place to fall. But it's time for you to start spreading your wings. Don't spread them too far, too fast, though. I may seem pretty zen about all of this now, but I'm not ready for nose piercing or dates or college applications. Not yet.
Thank you for making me a mom, for making me laugh every day, and for being such a unique and amazing human being. There is no one else like you.
As you would say, you're so SPICY!!
All my love,