At nine years old, Olivia is on the cusp of little girl and pre-teen. She’s on the verge of being too big and too old to do some of the things that are cute when you’re little but annoying and just plain weird when you’re older.
Just this morning we were looking at the pictures we’ve taken over the last couple of days as we wrap up the school year. I called Tom over to look because they are great pictures. Then I pulled the picture O brought home earlier this week from school. Their class had pen pals all year and on Tuesday, their pen pals came to visit them. It was awesome for the kids.
The teachers took pictures of each child with his/her pen pal. Olivia and her pen pal, Emma, stood next to each other and unfortunately, whoever took the picture managed to capture O at a really weird angle. She looks demented in that picture. (I’m her mom, I can say that, right?)
And yet, in this picture, she’s so pretty.
I pointed out to Tom that when she’s being ‘normal’ she takes great pictures but when she’s trying to be silly, the pictures come out weird. Of course, I suppose that’s the same for everyone right? (Hell, I can't take a decent picture ever because, hello triple chin and weird angles and just...ugh!)
We’re closing in on that point where the odd behaviors that we endure at home need to be shut down when we’re out in public. I have told her on several occasions in the past couple of months that she knows how to behave in public and I expect her to do so.
I don’t want to smother her individuality but I do want her to fit in. I want her to celebrate her weirdness in the best ways possible while still not spilling her entire Dr. Pepper all over the floor at Arby’s because she was flailing her arms around as she told a story.
I don’t expect her to be a typical kid because I know she’s not. I don’t want her to stop being herself, but I know that she understands what is acceptable behavior at places like school and band concerts. I know that it can be hard but I also know she CAN do it. And so we’ll continue to expose her to events that test her patience, her endurance and her attention span because through these tests, she’ll get better and better at handling situations like this.
She’s going to keep growing and learning and it’s up to me and Tom (and to her teachers to a lesser degree) to help her figure it all out.