Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Dozen Years

Last week was Cara's 12th birthday.  While many people lament that time with their children has gone by so fast, I honestly can say that this journey has taken twelve whole years. Even when I was digging around on our family website, looking through pictures of Cara when she was much younger, I do not find myself wishing she was one of those ages again. I like her at twelve. Twelve is just as great as eleven and ten and nine and all of the other year-olds she was.

During a visit from my mother when Cara was 6 months old (and excuse me if I've told this story before), Craig and I had my mom watch our daughter for a few hours. When we came back to get her, my mother said that Cara had been great but added, "She really needs you to watch her."  I stifled a "Well, duh, she's only 6 months old. Of course you need to watch her."  My mother must have seen that expression on my face because she went on to explain, "No, she actually WANTS you to watch her."

Looking back on that statement now, my mother had summed up my daughter in one short sentence.

So, here are some pictures of us watching her over the past twelve years:

The night she was born, she slept six straight hours. The nurses later scolded me for letting her sleep so long. But we had both been through 22 1/2 hours of labor. We totally needed that sleep. This was just one of many times that Cara made other parents jealous of how easy of a child she was.
Cara was born just a few days after my grandmother's 90th birthday.  The first great-grandchild.  Though Really Great (as we came to call her) was not too thrilled about our choice in names for our daughter (she instead referred to Cara as "Cutie Pie"), she adored this kid beyond words.  Since one of her favorite pictures of me when I was little was one of me looking into a mirror, this picture was taken just for her.
This was Cara's "get excited" face. It was one of our favorite baby tricks. One which we asked her to do repeatedly. And she would happily oblige each time.
This is a peek into her room-keeping skills. Though the books have been replaced with clothes, the results are fairly similar.
I stupidly used the "I think I hear Santa" to try to get her up to bed. This only managed to get her more worked up. She called out through the railing in a long, dramatic voice (the hands are to help her voice project), "SAAAAN-TAAAAA!"
We usually were instructed to announce her before she'd come out and put on a performance. "Presenting, Cara the dancer/singer/magician/musician/gymnast" or whatever she happened to be at that moment.
If Cara wanted to be or play something that she didn't have a costume or toys for, she would just make it out of construction paper and tape. She made a doctor kit, hairdresser set, Spongebob mask, tiger costume.....The list is as long as her vast imagination.
A true Minnesota girl. She actually spends more time outside at home when there's snow than any other time of year. Snow has become her construction paper. 
The ease in which she slips from serious to goofy is something I greatly admire. As she nears adolescence, it doesn't seem to be diminishing. Thank heavens. She's a dork off the old blocks.
Cara has always not only remembered birthdays, she's also made it her mission to make amazing gifts for each of us for our special days. This was the calendar Cara made for Connor. Each month had a different one of Connor's favorite characters, which she taught herself to draw by watching YouTube videos.  
When Cara started Tae Kwon Do a few years ago, she surprised us by setting a personal goal to get her red belt in two years. While she's had passing interests in dance, gymnastics, volleyball, etc, this was the first activity she was whole-heartedly passionate about. Doesn't hurt that she's amazing at it, either. Though it did take a bit longer than two years (a fact that can be blamed on summers filled with travels), she's now one test away from that red belt.
She has finally blossomed from only feeling comfortable performing for her immediate family to performing in front of people. She was the lead in her class play in 3rd grade, performs with the local puppet wagon, and regularly signs up for any school performance. Even with all of these extra outlets, we still get requests to watch performances at home.   
I love that Cara will go with me to events like this. When other pre-teens would groan about "old people's music", my daughter would take Beastie Boys over Bieber any day. 
Cara has such a sweet and gentle spirit, it's no wonder strangers have approached us asking if Cara was a babysitter. She loves to direct activities and to be in charge, it's the obvious next chapter for her.  And it's a perfect outlet for our pre-teen "look at me" girl.
When people hear that Cara has turned twelve, the comment that usually follows is about impending teenage-hood.  But Cara has been an easy, though at times dramatic, child.  Even on the outskirts of Hormone Town, we still enjoy being around our daughter.

Happy birthday, Schmoo! We promise to never stop watching you.

1 comment:

  1. thank you mom. I love preforming, but I love it more when you put up with my home shows.