My youngest little girl is ten.
One of my friends said something yesterday that I’ve been thinking all week.
When my big girls were ten, they were practically grown up. Josie is still just a baby.
Surely, she is still just a baby?
But she isn’t. She is, as all ten years old girls are, a little girl on the cusp of a waft of hormones that will bring curves and strops and worries and attitude. She is all about becoming now, even though her heart and mind, like her biggest sister, is all about staying little.
This birthday I have bought her, I imagine, one of her last dolls. This year she chose Lego, and boyish Lego at that and she will cling to childhood through the games it will give her for just a few more years.
This year she is still a little girl.
Being 10 means she has lived half her life in the shadow of something which took away her smile and left her brittle boned and tough as a tree that stands against a gale.
Being 10 means she is having to hear the words that she is too old to still be able to catch up in the sport she loves.
Being 10 means she is becoming one of the big girls of the house, though she clings to her little status fiercely.
Being 10 means laps are getting too small for her, though being the size of a 7 year old is delaying the inevitable.
Single-minded. Stubborn. Serious. Sensitive. Strong.
This day, which was difficult and damaging in so many ways, is so far in history now. What is left, is a beautiful girl, as is only right.
I’ve watched her trying to perfect this move over the last week, the piggiest of pig moves for half way decent gymnasts. I watched her stand and do 20 or 30 of them, shaking with rage at herself for not being quite there. She has tenacity and determination, all wrapped up in a tiny parcel. Not for nothing did she deserve this post on talent the other week.
And when I watch her being like that, self motivated, driven and talented, I can hardly wonder that school has lost whatever edge it ever had for her. She’s been feeling very sad there, having found herself lonely at lunch after last years friend re-found her own friend of the year before and bored with the humdrum of the national curriculum and waiting for people to settle down to do tasks that come easily to her anyway or do not ignite the fire within her.
She’s in a lovely school, with a lovely, lovely teacher who has been there for her from the very start. The one who wrote this:-
And who I know would do anything to make the environment as good as possible for my littlest girl.
Josie needs something else at the moment; she needs to be home educated and I can’t give her that, so the school and local authority have agreed that it is in the interests of Josie’s mental health to be home tutored (by us) one day a week.
I have so much admiration for a headmaster who will work to make a system suit a child. He has a beautiful ship, with a wonderful crew, that he works very hard to steer down a river of education system that is filled with something too toxic for too many children.
I really feel for teachers.
And I’m realising that while she has always been a funny little thing, Josie used to smile more – and we need to get that back again.
Happy tenth birthday Josie – our Fridays are my gift to you this year because you are, as you have always been ‘Just Josie’ and you need to feel like life is right for you.