Sunshine and thunderstorms: Avery turns eleven!

Dear Avery,

I've been thinking about what to write to you to commemorate your turning eleven and what I realize is that it may have been a year of growing pains, but today on your eleventh birthday you have emerged from a place of stretching and growing to a really balanced and happy least for the time being.  I am sure that as you enter middle school and the true tween to teen years that there will be angst.  But for now, you are sunshine (of course, with the occasional thunderstorm thrown in).

So let's discuss that growth and your success (and yes, some failures) that make you a wonderful young lady.  I wrote myself a list of what I wanted to write about: academic success, emotional growth, basketball & lacrosse & goalie, art & dance, Shayna, pink hair & braces & six (!) pairs of glasses. I could almost write nothing more than that list and you would remember exactly what the past year has been, but I believe a few insights and anecdotes are in order.

Avery, I really love your fifth grade teacher.  In addition to being a truly kind human being, he is a great teacher because he really knows each kid - the good and the bad.  When I read your latest report card below, I thought 'yup'.  So let's first celebrate your growth in math.  One day a week at Mathnasium during which you are forced to think about new concepts (and you do not like being forced so I bribe you with a Starbucks drink of your choice on the way) and you are a math rockstar.  And your teacher, he totally noticed after only one marking period.  Avery, you don't see yourself as an academic, but you totally are.

And since your teacher mentioned it, in your report card, I will write about your emotional growth next.  You are working on staying out of other people's drama.  You are working on being a good friend to more than one person at a time (versus going almost obsessively 'all in' on one person until you move onto the next).  And I am proud of you for recognizing that emotional health and emotional growth is indeed the greatest foundation for success and happiness in life.  I appreciate your continuing to learn how to be a good friend; I'm still learning and I am WAY older that you!

A natural next thing to write about is how you care for the newest member of our family, Shayna.  Every birthday wish that you ever had was 'please, please, please! can we get a dog!'  I almost wonder what you will wish for this year as your wish came true a little bit after you turned ten years old.  Your love for this dog and the joy and comfort that she has brought to our family is tremendous.  You show your love by not complaining when asked to take care of her with feeding her or walking her.  You also show your love by playing with her.  She definitely goes to you before anyone else when she wants to play (and Dad and Alex for food and me for snuggles).  She has been a part of our family for only eight months and I cannot imagine our lives without her.

I guess, since I just added the pic of you and Shayna to the post that now it's time to write about your physical appearance, namely pink hair and braces and glasses.  You love your pink hair.  It is very faded in this more recent photo so I have promised to refresh it before camp.  It is bright and fun and matches your sunshiny personality.  The braces are a rite of passage, and you are very ready to move on from this phase - nearly there!  The glasses ties you to your Halkuff and Goldstein side of your family.  Contacts and lasik will be a part of your future, but for now, it's just glasses.  And they are way more fashionable than they used to be.  What hasn't changed is that kids do not want to wear them all the time which leads to you losing them.  In 16 months of your wearing glasses, you have gone through six pairs.  Six!  Well actually only three have been lost or broken and you currently have three pairs leftover as they sometimes get lost and then reappear.  This is you being appropriately ten and eleven years old, but it still makes me crazy.

One last little paragraph about sports and dance and art.  Dance is forefront on my mind as you had your recital yesterday.  This year after a multi year hiatus from dance, you signed up for Central School dance hip hop.  I have to say that I really love this program.  Not because it has made you the best dancer ever, but because of your confidence and the friendships that you have made have truly left you all smiles.  And happiness and emotional health, well you already know my opinion on that :)
You continue to also build friendships and confidence and yes, skills too on the basketball court and the lacrosse field.  Thank you to your coaches for helping you to become the best you possible.  When you are focused and wanting to be playing, you really do make a difference to the game.  And lastly art, where you can be you.  You have taken a break from drawing this spring from formal drawing classes due to conflicts with lacrosse and instead of just completely stopping, I have seen your creativity flow in self directed ways like playing with makeup, making TikTok videos, drawing and painting and crafting.  Avery, you are a creative spirit and I love watching all things beautiful that you bring to life.

So that's it.  Eleven years old.  I can't believe it.  I am so lucky to be your mom.  I really really love you and love spending time with you.  Continue to be your best and continue to shine, even in the face of thunderstorms that might occur.



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