A Letter to Our Oldest Daughter on Your 11th Birthday

Today you are 11 years old.

You continue to be brilliant and funny and so weird. You crack yourself up all the time. One of my favorite things to do is make you laugh. You’re getting to the age where you think I’m corny or embarrassing, but every now and then I will say something and you legitimately laugh.

A few weeks ago you broke your left arm near the wrist. I have always been afraid of getting some sort of call like this one, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Abbie’s dad called to say there had been an accident and while he thought your wrist was broken you wouldn’t let him look at it. He put you on the phone and I tried to get more information from you, but decided to just take you to the ER. It was a long day. You were in a lot of pain and even though it took a while, they got you splinted. You had to have pins put in later and all seems to be healing really well. I’m incredibly grateful for the kindness and professionalism from everyone we’ve dealt with through the process, but what’s been most surprising was what I learned about you.

You are fiercely independent. You hate to ask for help. You COULD NOT physically open jars and boxes but you refused to ask for help. I have always known this to some degree, but seeing it play out was eye-opening. Also it was great seeing you be assertive with healthcare professionals. Most of the providers and nurses we saw spoke directly to you, which I was grateful for. I was so proud to see you answer them directly and with confidence despite the fact that you were in pain and didn’t want to be there. “I am allergic to bees and penicillin. My pain is a 6.”

The reality is women are often dismissed or their pain or symptoms minimized in those settings, so seeing you be assertive with your healthcare was powerful. I know it sucks to have a broken arm but the empowerment was invaluable.

You’re kind and thoughtful and continue to be a voracious reader. Your favorite TV show is The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix. You’re currently reading a novelization of the TV show The Flash and a few other books. We made cupcakes for your class and you frosted all of them yourself while your sister put sprinkles on them. I’ve heard you mention wanting to be a lawyer when you grow up. I think I’ve also heard you say something about wanting to be a teacher.

You’re still playing trombone, though your broken arm has given you a break from it for a few weeks. You’ve marched in parades, during a high school football game, and performed at several events around town. You make me so proud every single day.

Today after a long day of work and running around you sat down next to me and after a few minutes said, “thanks for making cupcakes for me, Dad.” It didn’t need to be said, but I loved that you said it.

I hope you have a wonderful birthday, Mija.