Monday, November 26, 2012

Ten years of parenthood

A decade can feel like a long time and a short time, depending on whether you are looking ahead at a stretch of ten years, or reflecting on ten that has passed.  Ten years ago today, Jim and I became parents to our sweet Rebecca Grace.  Her entrance into our lives held a little drama, as which I wrote about here when she was four.  We've had our moments of drama since then, as parents always do, especially when raising a sensitive and sweet girl like our Rebecca.  But it's been an overwhelming joy to be her parents.

At ten, she's growing close to 5 feet tall, making it hard for me to remember the tiny girl I used to hold in my arms.  She loves fashion, using her wardrobe in creative ways to show her idea of style daily. In the summer she plays softball, and all year she dances.  Rebecca has been taking ballet classes since she was four, adding jazz classes a few years later.  This summer she tried tap dancing and discovered a talent for it, so those classes continue as well.  Nancy, her dance teacher/studio owner recommended that she try a contemporary dance class this year; it's been a great new experience for her.  The teacher is a young woman who was a student of the studio owner, and the other girls in the class range in age from 11 into their teens.  Rebecca is the youngest in the class but really holds her own.  The class is challenging but she really enjoys the movements; I was relieved to see that she doesn't feel intimidated by being around students who are older.  She hopes to become a student assistant for her Nancy when she is a little older.  Nancy has already had Rebecca "fill in" a few times as assistant in Carly's ballet classes, and she loved it.  This summer her bike riding skills really took off, and she spent a lot of time tooling around the neighborhood.  In the fall, we allowed her to ride to school several times with our next door neighbor, who is a fellow fourth grader.  It was a leap of faith on our parts as parents, balancing our desire to keep our kids safe with wanting to give them some deserved freedom.  They both loved being "bike riders" to and from school, and I'm sure that in the spring they will be doing more riding instead of taking the bus.

Music is another passion of Rebecca's.  She has discovered pop music and plays the radio in her room daily.  That reminds me of myself at her age.  What is different is that Rebecca can also log on to You Tube to see her favorite performers, and to read lyrics that are posted with some of the videos.  Jim and I often hear her singing along to her favorite tunes ("If I Die Young" by The Band Perry is one she loves) and she has even recorded herself on video singing her songs.  She showed me some of the videos, which were great.  I admire her self-confidence in sharing them with Jim and me; as a kid I would NEVER have shown that kind of thing to my parents.  It wasn't that they would have been critical, but I always worried that I was somehow lacking in everything I did.  It makes my heart happy to see that Rebecca has more self esteem than I did.

This school year will be her last in her current elementary school, as next year she will go to our district's one intermediate school.  She's enjoying this year of being in the highest grade in her school.  Her teacher is wonderful and Rebecca adores her; we've been blessed with great teachers at every grade so far.  Rebecca is a great student, which is no surprise to Jim or me, and works hard to do well.  Her school work is one area where she does falter in her self confidence sometimes, especially when it comes to math.  I think the issue is that math doesn't come as easily to her as reading has, but she is clearly a great math student; we've pointed out to her that on standardized tests, her math scores have been even better than her language scores.  I have encouraged her to not dismiss math as "too hard" so that she doesn't limit her opportunities later on.  It's sad that at such a young age she's falling into the "girls can't do math" pattern; I am determined to keep her above ground on that one!

At home, Rebecca loves to read, or as her teacher encourages all of her students to do, to "get lost in a book."  Early in the year she started reading the Harry Potter series and ended up reading all of them in less than two months.  I had never read HP so I decided to get the audiobooks from our library to listen to on my daily commute.  Doing that provided us the opportunity for some great conversations.  This spring she wanted to read The Hunger Games and I decided it would be okay, as long as she stopped reading if it bothered her, and talked to me about it.  She wasn't fazed by the book but rather fascinated by it.  I took her to see the movie when it came out, with the caveat that if she couldn't handle some of the scenes, it would be okay to leave the theater.  Her only negative reaction was to complain about parts of the book that were glossed over or omitted in the movie.  She has since read the rest of the Hunger Games trilogy and we're looking forward to seeing the films of those books when they come out.

Rebecca is a typical tween in that her television tastes run to the tween shows on Disney and Nick; fortunately we restrict TV viewing to weekends to keep the number of hours of being as Jim calls it "mesmerized and hypnotized" to a minimum.  She's not a complete angel, but a regular kid who can be very silly at times and who has to be reminded more than once to do chores sometimes.  And I like it that way.

Looking forward to the next ten years with our wonderful daughter...

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