Olivia, today you are eleven. ELEVEN.
That is unreal, not just because it's been a long time and you're becoming so grown up, but also because you have had way more than your fair share of falls from playhouses, whacks to the head with balls/concrete/blunt objects, and random injuries. It was no accident that I picked this particular gift bag for you.
Yet, as much as you are accident-prone in everyday life, you are graceful and elegant on stage when you dance. You've made so much progress this year and I'm proud of how hard you've worked.
You are a fantastic combination of girly-girl and tomboy. You can stare at yourself in the mirror for ages making sure I didn't get any lumps in your pony tail and checking whether your necklace matches your shirt, but then you're off to muck around in the creek and conduct funerals for dead birds. You like spas and climbing walls, maxi dresses and ripped jean shorts, museums and water balloon battles.
Reading is still one of your favorite things to do, and you'll happily re-read books two, three, even four times. You spend your time online goofing around on email and Poptropica and YouTube (I'm pretty sure you've watched that One Direction interview about girls who like carrots no fewer than 942 times), and you've got some crazy obsession with this funky mermaid show filmed in Australia.
This has been the summer of hanging out on the porch across the street. You all (and this includes the boys, after two summers of avoiding them like the plague) spend hours making up dances, singing, and just talking.
Like your little sister, you have a lot of silly in you. It's nearly impossible to get a decent picture of you, one that doesn't involve your tongue, a scowl, or some other goofy expression. You love to do and say ridiculous things to make others laugh, and you have a great sense of humor. (Um, as long as your parents aren't the ones making the joke; in that situation, you've perfected the eyeroll and the drawn-out, exasperated "maaaaaahhhhmmmm.")
It feels strange to not see you on your birthday, but I feel sure you're being appropriately celebrated at camp. I hope you enjoy the freaky owl sleep mask I left for you, and that you use it wisely. Creeping out your cabinmates and counselor is always fun.
You were so outgoing and confident when I left you this weekend, chattering with your new friends about Kool-Aid hair dye, spiders, and swim tests. I've always admired your ability to dive right in to any social situation and hold your own, and I love that you have the kind of heart that assumes that of course everyone is going to be friends and be nice. Yes, it's caused some tears when you've discovered otherwise, but please, don't ever give up your willingness to assume the best about people.
At eleven, you are stuck between childhood and adolescence. One minute you're playing Ghost in the Graveyard with the Street Kids, and the next you're squeeing over One Direction and getting phone calls from boys. There have been just as many tears as joyous moments this year as you've started negotiating that ugly terrain called pre-adolescence.