Yesterday was a very busy day, which makes me a day late in offering up my birthday post for L. Our youngest turned 8 yesterday, and everything about the day fit her perfectly.

As a lot of you saw, I posted some pics of her to Facebook with a little birthday announcement. At the end of the day, I showed her how many people had liked it or sent birthday greetings her way in the comments. She was very impressed. She ran out and told her sisters how many “Likes” she had. Just what that kid needed: an ego boost.

L and her classmates got fancy cupcakes for snacks late in the school day, courtesy of her cool dad.[1]

She struggled with her list of gift ideas for well over a month. First she gave us a long list of Harry Potter-related items. Toys, books, etc. Then she scrapped all that and started asking for a kids tablet with a case and games to go with it. We shot that down, as she and her sisters already share an iPad and getting a kid tablet she’ll outgrow in a week seemed like a waste of money.

We asked her what she liked to do with her friends, and then she thought of playing XBox at two of her friends’ houses. We’ve had a Wii for several years, but it’s the old one that they don’t make games for anymore. Every couple of months the girls will go through a Mario Kart or Just Dance phase, but the console doesn’t get nearly as much use as it once did.

I did the research and we decided an XBox One S could be a very nice gift that she would share with the rest of the family. I timed my purchase just right as the latest model, which comes with Minecraft and FIFA ’17, was released last Friday. It was delivered on release day and we let her open it up as soon as she got home from school yesterday. She was thrilled with it! Of course, then I went through the hours of downloading updates and trying to get our new Microsoft account to work. We were able to play FIFA after about an hour, but I couldn’t get Minecraft to start downloading until after the girls went to bed. She’s very animated when playing FIFA. Once she figured out how to stop scoring on her own goalie, she was able to beat me.[2]

She also got a Nerf gun from our neighbors, which she loves. It can shoot like 40 feet! She stood at our front door and shot out into the cul-de-sac for at least 20 minutes. Her Mimi bought her a magic kit on their night out Friday. And C gave her a dollar and a little cat keychain. Sister gifts are the best.

L is still L, which I’m going to try to enjoy for as long as it lasts. She’s the entertainer in the family. She’s our little Beast,[3] who is generally sweet but can be a bit mean to her sisters at times. More than any of our girls, she embraces new things and experiences. When she encounters obstacles, she quickly focuses on ways of overcoming them rather than complaining or saying she can’t do something.

Sometime last spring I started referring to her as a future class president. Anytime she sees her classmates, boys or girls, they run over and shout her name and jump on her. Even back in preschool, I remember watching her run one way, waving her arms at everyone, and moments later her entire class would follow in her path. Teachers and other parents who volunteer at school have told me how her mood sets the tone for the entire group or class. She keeps people in line. She sets a good example. She’s not going to be class president because she’s ambitious, but because everyone else loves and follows her and they decide she’s going to be their leader.

She’s also a pleaser and a flatterer. She worships her teachers, with her current one always being her favorite. For her first grade hero project, she chose her teacher. I made a comment about how that was both cute and funny, and S shook her head and said, “That girl knows how to work the system.” She’ll give up free time in order to help her teachers clean up the classroom. She bonds with her coaches before most of the other kids. If her sisters are being crappy to us, she’ll crank up the charm and get cuddly to counter our anger/annoyance with them. It’s all sucking up, but it’s already done with a healthy amount of finesse so she doesn’t come across as ass-kissy.

As our youngest, it’s hard not to always view her as our baby. It doesn’t help that she’s not the biggest kid her age. But over the past few months, mostly when I look at pictures of her, she’s started to look more like a big kid. It’s the same transition we saw in her sisters at the same age, but it’s a little more jarring just because of how I have viewed her. I’ve been fine with the door closing to some of the preschool/early elementary school things we swam in for the past eight years. It’s a little harder, though, to watch her physically mature. Every one of M’s birthdays opens a new set of experiences for our entire family. Each October 3, we close a door to familiar things that have defined who we are as a family for nearly a decade.

The great thing about L, though, is that she embraces pushing forward. S and I might miss some of the things that are disappearing, but L is all about whatever is next.

  1. I was bummed the class was outside when I delivered them. Whenever I’m in her class, I get lots of “Hey Mr. B!”’s and hear comments like “L, your dad is really tall!” Speaking of ego boosts…  ↩
  2. Granted, I’m a total loss on those XBox controllers right now. Man the old Sega Genesis was so much easier with just the D-pad and four buttons.  ↩
  3. Her favorite Nike shirt has “#Beast” printed on it.  ↩