Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The 8-Year-Old

 About a week after we got home from our trip, and way before I was actually ready, it was Hazel's birthday.  Ed's parents and sister flew in that day for a week-long visit, so I feel like the first part of her day got slighted by my frantic efforts to ready the house. But we did manage some blueberry pancakes for breakfast.

 And her friends the Strattons popped by to sing to her.

For dinner we had her favorite - KFC chicken and biscuits.  Banana cream pie for dessert.

And then it was kind of over.  But at the same time, it lasted all week.  The next day was an Easter egg hunt at a park with some friends.  Then the next day, Ed took the day off and we all went to Mount Vernon with our visitors.  Then Saturday, was Hazel's baptism.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, children may be baptized on or after their eighth birthday.  We've been preparing for this day in our family scripture and gospel study for awhile, and Hazel understands what baptism means, and what it's for.  It's a big milestone.  I was a wreck.

We sent out invitations before our trip.  We lined up the speakers, prayers, and musicians.  Printed the program.  Brought tablecloths and cupcake stands for the refreshments.  The white dress we bought a year ago even fit perfectly. 

Many people graciously attended - friends from Church, extended family, even some of our neighbors.  Everything went beautifully.

This is my favorite picture.  The water was pretty cold.

Hazel had invited her whole class from school.  I had included a note to parents with the invitation, to explain as much as possible what it would be like, and to invite their whole families.  Hazel told me when she was changing, that she was "heartbroken" none of them had come.  I had been afraid of that; I don't personally know many of the parents.  But one important person did come, which meant so much to all of us: Hazel's teacher, Ms. Betts. 
The program was brief and beautiful, then there was a flurry of hugs and conversations over cupcakes afterwards.  Then it was over.  Everyone was gone.  We cleaned up, and went out for a family dinner.  When we got home, I had to switch gears to Easter, and get everyone's baskets ready, and start planning Easter dinner. 

I think in the future, I would not prefer to have a birthday, and family event, and house guests, and a big holiday, all in one week, and just after arriving home from a major trip.  It was a lot of work for me, and did not allow me time to process it, on my own or with Hazel. 

I haven't even done an 8-year-old interview with her, and she's already back at school.  Which means I see so little of her, and when I do, it's a lot of nagging about homework, and now also thank-you notes for her birthday gifts.  But I can say a few things to describe her at this age.

Hazel has always had a very active imagination, and she spends a lot of time daydreaming and pretending.  She has been interested in magical things for awhile - dragons and fairies and such, and our family's reading of Harry Potter has helped fuel the interest.  When she disappears in the house, it's up to her bedroom; she sits on her bed with several books open about wizards and magic, and several dolls, mostly Groovy Girls, and she delves deep into imaginings. 

Back in the real world, Hazel likes to laugh and talk loudly, ride her bike, and play rough games with her sisters, mostly Poppy, who is rougher than Ginger.  She loves science, and cooking, and has said for a long time now that she wants to become a pastry chef.  However, in the kitchen she is easily distracted, and it's tricky to keep her focused.  She also has a fascination with skin problems, like rashes and calluses.

She excels at school and has a highly active social life there; some friends have even started calling her at night.  She tells me everyone likes her and says she's the smartest one at school.  Of course I found this boastful and exaggerated, until I talked to her teacher and found it to be true.  Even when I took cupcakes in after spring break, for her birthday, many of her classmates told me things like, "Hazel's so smart, I wish I could think like her," and "Hazel's the prettiest, smartest girl I know."  Some of the girls even asked me directly if they could come to my house for a playdate with Hazel.  Having not been popular this way in school myself, I don't know how to react to it. 

Homework continues to be a struggle for Hazel, and therefore our relationship.  Not that it's hard, but that it's hard for her to focus at 4 p.m. after being in school all day.  Hazel needs time to imagine, think, and play.  I hate to spend that hour, or two, or three, constantly redirecting her.  Luckily, only ten and a half weeks of school are left. 

Hazel and Poppy currently share a room; Ginger has her own, next door.  When Ed's parents were here, we gave Ginger's room to his sister, and Ginger slept with Hazel in her bed.  After they left, she has kept sleeping with Hazel.  I keep checking with Hazel, to make sure she doesn't mind.  She is cheerful and says she likes it; she says having Ginger there keeps her from having nightmares.  That said, those two bicker like an old married couple, or like...sisters. 

It's easy for Ed and I to be hard on Hazel, for things both big and small.  One, she's the oldest, so our expectations are high.  Two, she's not overly sensitive to criticism like Ginger is, so we ride her because we can.  Three, she's boisterous, which is generally harmless, but can be annoying, so sometimes we lash out at her for that.  We are trying to watch that more carefully.  Our biggest complaint, and source of aggravation with Hazel, is her failure to pay attention.  This may be in the form of not obeying something we say, either because she didn't hear, or didn't process it.  Or searching for something and not finding it even when it's right under her nose.  Or not following through on something she started, like putting her art supplies away, or only partially unloading the dishwasher.  We know this about her, and that getting mad doesn't help.  We are trying to find other ways of dealing with it that will.

But mostly, Hazel is happy and fun.  Her enthusiasm and curiosity cheer me up, as does the bridge of freckles across her nose and cheeks.  She loves to eat, loves to play, and loves loves to socialize.  I love her so much.


Shells said...

We love her too. Have you tried moving homework to after dinner? Maybe giving her some time to play and unwind would help. We have some of the same struggles with E. Lately he has taken to doing one question, then doing a lap around the house, repeat. He is just so tired of sitting still after a full day of school. In general though, I think it's a sign of how bright and curious she is. She is wonderful.

Lindsay said...

I cannot believe she is 8! She's supposed to still be in nursery!!

cherry said...

Happy Birthday and Baptism day! she has grown a lot since we last saw her. The second to last paragraph about Hazel reminded me of Geri--being the oldest child too :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...