13 Years

Dear Josie-

Today the day finally came. The day you have been you have been eagerly anticipating for a long, long time. You are a TEENAGER. And you couldn’t be happier about it. 13 means you get to sit in the front seat of the car, wear make up (in moderation), and ride in a boat without a life jacket. You can get your boater’s license and we’ve also decided it means you get to start learning how to drive…in the field, anyways.

This year has been strange, and good, and interesting, and hard, and sweet, all rolled together. Middle school is a strange and awkward time. You are trying to figure out who you are and who you want to be. You are trying out all kinds of new personalities and interests, just to see if they fit. Your daddy and I are equal parts annoyed and enamored with you, all the time. We get to see small glimpses of future, grown up Josie, and we still see some of our sweet, happy little girl Josie, but a lot of the time is the awkward, annoying, silly Josie….or the moody, narcissistic, and emotional Josie. But we love all the versions of who you are. Every single one, even when we are annoyed.

Here are the things I want to remember about this year of your life:

-Covid was still very much a presence in our lives, but you rolled with it and handled it as gracefully and with as much patience as possible. You didn’t complain about mask wearing, you patiently endured quarantines, and you were happy (albeit very scared) to get your vaccine.

-You were officially diagnosed with dyslexia. And it has been a wonderful thing. This was your best year of school in several years, mainly due to the fact that you were finally getting the accommodations you were needing, and because you had Mrs. Rose for a teacher. AND because we finally KNEW. Just knowing was a relief. And you did one of the hardest, bravest things you’ve ever done. You stood in front of your whole class, and you told them about your diagnosis and what it meant. And it was so, so good for you. You felt immediate relief to have that “secret” out in the open. And it helped some of your classmates open up about their learning differences as well. We were so, so proud of you.

-You are slowly but surely giving up “playing.” You play with your brother, and I still catch y’all in make believe games sometimes, but your free time looks a lot different than it did even a year ago. You listen to music ALL the time, either through headphones or on the speaker in your room. Your current favorites are Old Crow Medicine Show or the Jonas Brothers. You are constantly redecorating your room. You will hole up in your bed and read for hours on end. You love, love books. You like to draw house plans and do art projects- especially if they involve melting crayons. You LOVE to roller blade. You will do that for hours in the driveway, listening to music. You and Jack also love to play on the slack line and create obstacle courses for each other.

-You had your first official “boyfriend” this year that we called your “scrunchie buddy.” (Nathaniel) Having a boyfriend didn’t mean much more than you talking to him at school and occasionally texting with him, though.

-We gave you a smidge more freedom with electronics this year. Partly because of isolation with Covid, and partly because you have proven yourself (so far) responsible in that realm. You get to chat with your friends on Google hangouts and you have a (monitored) list of people you are allowed to text. You inherited my old cell phone (without service) and Apple watch.

-You are growing like a WEED. Seriously, since Christmas, you’ve had your first major growth spurt of your life. You can share some clothes and shoes with me, and you have officially outgrown the kids’ section. And you definitely have an opinion about your clothes now. You are developing your own style. Sometimes your daddy and and I approve, and sometimes we don’t. You chopped your hair off big time this year, and it looks so good! You have learned to fix it really well.

-Growing like a weed also means you are eating us out of house and home. You literally eat more than any of us now. Your favorites are spaghetti, hamburgers, Greek food, and any kind of dessert (but especially caramel and dark chocolate). You also LOVE coffee, especially mocha lattes, and will drink it anytime you are allowed. Dr. Pepper is also a favorite.

-You love to write. You published several issues of “The Edwards,” a school newspaper you created all by yourself. You are also currently writing a chapter book.

-You love sarcasm and are starting to learn when it is/isn’t appropriate. You and your daddy have a lot of fun together.

-You are unpredictable-one second you will do something grown up and big and responsible and then the next minute run away like a little kid kicking and screaming from something you are are irrationally afraid of.

-You simultaneously have the best and worst memory of any kid on the planet.

-You learned to mow this year.

-When we ask you to name your best friends, Hannah is always first, followed closely by Josie B., Nathaniel, and Joseph. You are learning that not everyone is your friend….and that that is perfectly okay.

I could never list all the things that make you, YOU. But I do love you, so much, even through all the attitude and sarcasm and awkwardness. And because of it. Even though you are undeniably growing up, you will always be my little Josie girl.

Love you to the moon,

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