How can you be ten years old already, Kara?
I really don’t know where the time has gone, but we celebrated your tenth birthday last Thursday. So, as is my tradition, here’s a look back on your life over the past year and a couple of thoughts on what’s to come.
You are the opposite of me in so many ways. I’m introverted and quiet; you’re extroverted and oh-so-loud. I’m cautious and tentative; you’re utterly fearless and race headlong into new situations. Of all our children, you look the least like me, both in terms of facial features and body shape. We are an oak and a willow; a breeze and a hurricane.
But, as the saying goes, opposites attract. It’s precisely because you are so different to me – and to your mum – that I am constantly drawn to you. Toby is my doppelganger both physically and in character; likewise, Isaac is Heather. But you are a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
Either that, or it’s just your standard father/daughter thing.
You are 50% princess, 50% diva and 100% daddy’s little girl.
Except, of course, you’re not so little any more. Was it really ten whole years ago that what was supposed to be a calm, relaxing home birth turned into a mad, dramatic solo dash to Reading to get to the hospital barely 20 minutes before you arrived?
You’ve always liked to make an entrance, haven’t you? I should have known this would set a precedent for what would follow.
A year of change, sport and more sport
Anyhow, for the first time since you turned seven, we’ve been able to celebrate your birthday free from Covid restrictions. You’ve seen your grandparents. You’ll have a proper party with friends. All is well once more.
Of course, that’s not the only thing that’s different since this time last year. It’s been an eventful 12 months, full of growth and change.
The past year has seen you finally give up gymnastics in favour of football. You’re still progressing well with martial arts – having moved up to weapons training now (oh joy!) – but cheer is now your big passion. If you’re not working on your strength and flexibility, you’re turning cartwheels around the house, on the football pitch, anywhere really. Your heart’s set on going to Worlds in Florida one day. Keep training; keep dreaming – you’ll get there!
It’s because of your many extracurricular activities that we’ve now decided not to try for grammar school entrance exams in the autumn, as your brothers did. It’s not that you’re not smart enough – you definitely are – but the amount of travelling to and from Reading would have limited your options. You’ll still do well academically, of that I have no doubt. But given your many sporting interests, this ended up being a no-brainer.
Style and song
Yes, sport occupies a big part of your life, but that’s not all there is to you. For all your sportiness – and a six-pack of which I am 100% jealous – you’re also a girly girl who loves to dress up and accessorise. You spend your spare hours chatting with your bestie. You love all things Disney.
And – a daughter after your father’s heart – you do love a good pop culture reference or quote. Our conversations are peppered with lines from Marvel films, Hamilton, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and pop songs. (Pink is your favoutite artist – a feisty, independent former gymnast, no, I can’t see the resemblance …) You have quite an ear for music, constantly surprising me with your ability to recall classic 80s and 90s tracks, often from the fact they’ve featured in films, Strictly or The Masked Singer. And you’re not afraid to sing either. I still vividly remember that evening a few summers ago when you insisted on getting up on stage at a campsite in Luxembourg to do your karaoke YMCA. (Just like me performing my parody version of Pretty in Pink in front of 600 people at a blogging conference once. Like father, like daughter, eh?)
Growing up fast
Aside from being a round number, ten feels like such a significant age.
The end of your primary school journey is now much more than a blip on the horizon, barely a year away. The little girl you once were is slowly fading into the mists of time. In many ways you are already mature beyond your years – and accelerating fast.
I will really miss it when you stop sneaking into our bed early in the morning for a snuggle. You already have the whole teenager-with-attitude thing down pat – particularly when you’re hangry – so God only knows what you’ll be like once you’re an actual teenager. You have a few too many stroppy diva moments. I’d like to think you will be my rollercoaster/singing in the car/workout buddy forever, but I know that too will pass – and probably faster than I’d like to think.
You will change and in truth I wouldn’t want it any other way. I just hope you continue to radiate life in the way you always have, seize every opportunity and that, no matter what, there will always be a place in your heart for your dad.
And so to your birthday and birthday weekend. A selection of cat-themed – or Kat-themed – presents and cards befitting a girl who is ten going on 17. A makeup bag. The latest Lottie Brooks book. An IOU to get your ears pierced this summer. Hair scrunchies. A homemade Black Forest gateau.
And, finally, tickets for you and me to see the Sunday matinee of Matilda in the West End. Which, of course, you adored. It’s a musical – one of our shared loves – how could you not? I watched you as you took it all in, rapt, with a beaming smile and frequent peals of laughter. It was – for me at least – the perfect way to finish your birthday weekend. One of those moments to freeze in time forever.
So there we are. The end of one year; the beginning of another.
I guess you are, in so many ways, just a normal, ordinary ten-year-old girl. But you’re my ten-year-old girl, and that means you will never be merely ordinary to me.
I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring. (I may regret saying that, but let’s run with it for now.)
Happy birthday, Kat.
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