We’ve hit double figures. Friday, M. left the world of single digits behind and entered the realm of the big kids, the drama of the pre-teen years, the marketing target of the Tweens. That’s right, she’s now ten years old.

As is our family custom, this was the year for a big party for her. And she was the first girl to break the monopoly Monkey Joe’s had on our family’s birthday parties. She invited five girls over Saturday for a pretty snazzy soirée. It began with a trip to the pool, where they splashed around and ate pizza. Then it was back to our house for decorating their own cupcakes (blue velvet!) and presents. Next up was a nature scavenger hunt in the neighborhood. Storms were rapidly approaching1, so we hustled them into the garage where each girl made her own tie-dyed t-shirt. They had some time playing in the house before we kicked a movie on for them. Around 10:30 we killed the lights and all six girls, amazingly, calmed down and “camped out” in the basement.

They were up promptly at 7:00 Sunday morning and were soon racing around the house screaming and yelling while we prepared them a rather kick-ass breakfast. By 10:15, all the girls were gone and the house was quiet again.

It was, actually, quite a nice time. The girls talked a lot and loudly, of course. One of M.’s classmates actually talks more than her, which is kind of amazing. But they had fun, were well behaved, and there wasn’t any drama. Other than L. crying in the morning because they were excluding her. 2 But that will happen.

And what about M., my oldest? I’ve realized in recent months that she reminds me in many ways of myself as a child. She absorbs information like a sponge, and is not shy about sharing it if prompted. Or not prompted. Doesn’t really matter. She tends to be argumentative if she believes she’s right and is reluctant to let someone else have the last word in a dispute. It’s so annoying to me, but, now I realize, that’s because I was that kid when I was her age. I fear had I not been an only child, I would have been as bossy as she is to her sisters.

I realized this because lately S. has been telling me to “just stop talking” to M. when we’re arguing. M. will say something, I’ll say something in response, she’ll say something back, and before I can get another word in S. is shushing me. M. and I have butted heads a lot in the last few years. I think it’s helpful to realize that it’s because she’s so much like me. Maybe it will help me understand and tolerate her better. Maybe…

But on to the good stuff. As I said, that girl is like a sponge for information, and will regurgitate it in great detail if you give her the chance. I’m laughing thinking of the day last spring when her class watched a movie. On the way home from school, I asked her what the movie was about. Four minutes later she was still detailing all kinds of obscure plot points as I giggled and her sisters rolled their eyes.

I am so pleased that she continues to share my love of books. We’ve been going to the library once a week and she is normally allowed to get 4-5 books. One day she had read three of them before bedtime. And these were all 190-ish page books. She probably watches too much TV and we let her spend too much time on the computer. But I think that time reading balances that out somewhat, and develops her mind in ways that will be so useful later in life.

I’m thankful that she enjoys school and, normally, attacks it with a gusto. This was her first year taking the state skills tests at school. She was off-the-charts in almost every category. I hope she doesn’t lose that passion for and appreciation of learning.

Although her over-the-top qualities drive me crazy sometimes, she is a terrific friend. She’s loyal and supportive and wants to share every moment of joy with the people around her. I hope she has many more years of that before she picks up my cynicism and sarcasm.

While her need to be the center of attention bugs me sometimes, I do like that she’s not afraid to be a leader. She’s the kid who comes up with the rules for the game. She’s the one who explains how something works to others. She’s the one who spreads information so no one is ignorant. She just needs to learn to pick her spots a little better.

Honestly, she’s just a good kid. She makes me a little nuts3 when she tries to parent her sisters, or when she whines, or when she gets moody. But all of her flaws are normal flaws common to most of your homes. She’s nice to people, she’s cheerful, and she’s pleasant to be around. When she’s not butting heads with her dad, she’s normally in a pretty good mood.

  1. I was thinking of my 10th birthday on Friday and remembered my small party had to hustle down to our laundry room because there was a tornado warning in the midst of the party. I took my new goldfish with us. 
  2. Still one of my favorite things L. has ever said to me, when she was only three or four, “They ex-cwuding me.” 
  3. Or a lot nuts. Whatever.