I seem to have completely dropped the ball on writing letters to any of you on or near your birthdays. In the grand scheme of things though, it really shouldn't matter when I write these letters, as long as I write them once a year or so. At least I like to tell myself that. That said, you had a big milestone this week, so what better time to write a letter! Tuesday, you graduated from elementary school.
(First day of kindergarten picture)
You couldn't be more ready for middle school. At 5'7, you are now taller than every elementary school teacher you've had over the past six years. Not only have you physically outgrown the pint-sized chairs and desks, I think you have mentally moved beyond it and have just been ready for this chapter to come to a close.
After the ceremony, as friends in your class shed tears about their last day at the school and posed for pictures with every classmate, you eagerly held on to your diploma and exclaimed, "Can we leave now?"
It wasn't that you didn't enjoy your time there or aren't going to miss your friends who will be attending different middle schools. You had many happy years there and will definitely miss certain friends. You are ready to move forward though. You have seen what a great experience middle school has been for Elise, and you are excited about this next stage in life. You are ready for new friends, new challenges, and new experiences in a new school. For some of your friends, graduation day was an emotional day filled with sad goodbyes, reminders of elementary school memories and a slide show that tugged at their heartstrings. For you, it was simply the last hurdle to cross on the way to the finish line.
I am excited for you. I love that you are open to the new adventures that await you in middle school. As you love tell anyone who mentions middle school electives, your parents are making you take band next year. You love to point out what cruel parents we are to force this on you, but secretly, I think you may actually be looking forward to participating in band. You are such a music loving soul. You love to listen to music, find new songs on iTunes, and you thoroughly enjoyed playing the recorder in music class. Your one and only aversion to band is the stage appearance twice a year for the concerts. Your dad and I are taking the "we know what's best for you" role on this one. I predict that you will love it. Band has been such a positive part of middle school for Elise - the fun, the music, the band director, the friends, and the performances. We are hoping for a similar experience for you, and I think the many pros of band outweigh the cons of a little stage fright twice a year. How it all plays out remains to be seen though. We have assured you that if you hate it, you can drop out after the first year.
Right now, your major love is volleyball. You play any chance you get. Your goal is to be a manager for the middle school volleyball team in 6th grade and then play on the team in 7th and 8th. I think it is great that you've found a sport that you love. It is definitely a good fit for you.
Like band, volleyball was another activity we "forced" you to do. About a year ago, you had become rather sedentary. There weren't any activities, hobbies, or sports that interested you. We told you that you needed to choose something to do outside of school or we were going to choose something for you. You never made a selection, so without even asking you, I signed you up for volleyball. I didn't necessarily think you would love it. I wasn't even sure if you would like it. I just wanted you try something new. Of course, there was also that little overly optimistic voice in my head that said, "She has the height for volleyball... maybe she will love it, get really good at it, and get a scholarship." We are all allowed those pie in the sky parental dreams occasionally, right?
You played in a fall league for the team with the most losing record in the league. You lost every regular season game, but it hooked you. You had the time of your life. Last week, you started playing for a new summer league team which encompasses an older age group and higher skill level. I think you will grow and learn a lot as a player in this league. You plan to play in the fall again too. Volleyball has been great for you. It gives you a focus, an identity, a team spirit, and a great outlet for blowing off steam and getting some exercise.
Your other big interest lately has been sewing. You received a sewing machine for Christmas and have spent many hours designing, creating, and sewing. I think you enjoy the design aspect best. You are going to a week of fashion design camp this summer, and I'm anxious to see what you learn there. You have taken to doing a lot of "upcycling" - taking old worn out, outgrown, or out of style items from our closets and upcycling them into something new. This is one of your upcycled t-shirt creations.
I feel like this has been a big year for you... you have grown a lot, matured a lot, and really turned into the middle schooler that you soon will be. You have taken on more chores around the house and more responsibilities for taking care of yourself. If I need help putting Addie to bed or making her lunch, you jump right in. Of course, with this new tween maturity, we sometimes get the tween attitude as well. You have perfected a grimace that I have interpreted as a cross between, "I hate you", "You are the meanest parent ever", and "This is my evil look". Your glare with those piercing eyes can be a bit disconcerting. I'm hoping it is just a phase. Fortunately, you don't use it on us too frequently.
This coming year will bring a new school, new adventures, new friends, and lots of change. You seem wholeheartedly prepared and ready to tackle all of it though. And that... that is awesome.
I love you, Nina!