Today is the beginning of the trio of 12 year olds turning 13. H. is the first, quickly followed by TM, with D. bringing up the rear in 8 months.
H. is very, very, very excited about her birthday. She has been counting down for a couple of weeks now. It's hard to have one of the last birthdays of the year, because it seems as though it will never come. But is has. Phew!
I cannot really fully convey the changes we have seen in this child over the past year. The best I can describe is that it is like watching a pretend child turning into a true and real child. She has awareness of her surroundings, honest emotions, more language to convey her thoughts. There are thoughts to convey!
The simplest example I can tell you about happened last week. Now H. has ridden in the car with me a lot. We go to a lot of doctor's appointments together as well as when we're going to places as a family. Yet the last time she came with me to the grocery store, something was different. (I rotate through H., K., G., and L. coming to the grocery store with me each week. It is an anticipated event. D., TM, and P. do not seem to share in the excitement over this event and choose to stay home out of the rotation.) On the way home from the store, it was as if she suddenly could see things. I was asked many questions about why the road was like it was and what each thing on the dash board of the car meant. Turn signals (ours and other cars') suddenly started to exist. The next few days saw her drawing pictures of roads. Just roads... with lines (yellow and white) and sidewalks. She wanted to talk about the different parts of the road and the different colors of the lines, all while making original artwork. It may not seem earth shattering, but it marks such a different level of awareness and engagement with the world. It's huge.
She is also making progress academically. Another small example. About two years ago, no matter what I did or tried or manipulatives I used, I couldn't help her identify the names of the numbers past five if she saw them individually. Last year, she cleared that hurdle and could identify numbers 1 - 10. Then over the summer something new happened, and when we started work again, not only could she identify numbers 1 - 10, but she could read numbers between 1 and 100, plus skip count by 5's and 10's. I know I've mentioned these things before, but I wanted to give you a timeline for the length of time it usually takes for something to stick. Two weeks ago her math book started to introduce three digit numbers. I took a deep breath and we started to learn what they meant and how to read them. As I anticipated, the first couple of times she tried to read a three digit number, such as 145, she tried to read it as '14', '5'. So we talked a little again and went over the drawing I made. The next time (and the times following), she could read the numbers. She may try to read it the other way first, but catches herself and then reads it correctly.
A real child. She has a range of emotions... happy, sad, angry, annoyed. She pesters and loves her brothers and sisters just as they do to her. A real child.
Happy Birthday, my dear H.! I love you very much and think you are one of the bravest people I know. You love everyone with open arms and an open heart and accept them as they are. We could all stand to be a bit more like you.