Today my daughter London turns 8. She’s the middle child in our family and the youngest on her mom’s side. Technically, she’s my stepdaughter and I feel truly blessed to have a part in raising her.
Let me tell you a little bit more about this lovely young woman I get to watch grow up:
London loves school and works hard, but she doesn’t stress if she gets some of the words wrong on a spelling test. She’ll simply say “Well, I still got 15 right.” She loves musical theater but purposely passes up auditions for the lead roles, telling us she’s happy with the role of Cheerleader #5 (and she is).
London has a fierce attachment to all animals. Two birthdays ago she asked for a puppy and we gave her a Beta fish. She’s crazy about that fish and asked to take it to school for a day during Pet Week.When she was 4, one of my mother-in-law’s dogs died suddenly while at our home. I told preschooler London that he was sick and that we were going to take him to the doctor, to spare her the pain of realizing the dog in front of her had actually already died.
When we picked her up from preschool hours later, she immediately asked how the dog was doing. She pulled out an envelope containing a “wish” she had made that day in school. She could wish for ANYTHING and the teacher wrote it down and put it in the envelope. London opened the envelope and handed us the slip of paper. It said, very simply, “For my dog, Wicky.” (The dog’s name was Ricky, but that was what the teacher heard).
London has a “bear bear” that has been her companion since birth, who actually makes several appearances in our wedding photos from when London was nearly 2. That bear is tattered and shredded but,at 8 years old, she still carries it with her nearly everywhere. While her older siblings have shed their lovies (at least during daylight hours), London is clinging to hers without shame. “I love my bear bear,” she’ll say. And she does.
London prefers a quieter life under the radar compared to her outspoken siblings, both older and younger. I often tell my husband that London will probably end up the happiest adult of all our kids.
As she gradually makes the transition from the goofy girl we love to a young woman beginning to discover her potential, I’m beginning to realize how much I’ve come to rely on London. She’s the one I count on for certain things – she’s the one I know will come through, for me or for her siblings, in nearly every situation. She’s young, but the depth of her understanding of what is needed of her, and what she is actually capable of doing, is remarkable.
Here’s an example: Recently London was invited for pizza and a movie at a friend’s house. The mom reported back to me that though London was completely engrossed in watching “Goosebumps” on the TV screen, she managed to see or sense that their 2-year-old was heading for the open door leading out to the garage. In a single motion, London leapt over the back of the couch to stop the toddler in a gentle way, redirecting her back to the living room area.
My other daughter was there and didn’t budge. The sister of the toddler was there and didn’t notice. The dad of the family, who was actually in the garage and aware that the toddler was heading his way, saw London’s quick action and told his wife about it. No one yelled for London to step in. No one asked her to keep an eye on the toddler. No one else even sensed danger, but London did. And she acted on that intuition.
Let’s just say that London tops the list of kids I want on my good side when I’m old and senile. She’s imaginative and independent. She prioritizes family and time spent at home, with us and with her mom. She’s okay simply being okay at some things. She’s not ashamed of who she is and never acts like someone else (unless it’s Cheerleader #5). London is smart, observant, creative, empathetic, and truly the best friend a person could ever have. She’s a lot of things I wish I could be myself and I admire her.
Happy 8th birthday to you London. I can’t imagine my life without you in it.
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