A Letter to my Pre-Teen Daughter.

Dear Giggles,

I know that sometimes it’s very hard for you and I to talk about things since, in the grand scheme of your life, you have only been mine for a short time.  We write back and forth in our journal, but I’m putting this in the official family blog, immortalizing it if you will.  I’m writing things that I don’t think would be bad for the whole world to know about you, things I want to remember when I’m old and gray and you have children of your own.  I want to tell these things to your children, so that they can know their mom a little better.

Giggles, you make me so proud.

Middle school has given you a bit of a butt kicking lately.  Not just the normal pre-teen girl stuff either.  Normal pre-teen stuff you handle so well.  Some chick told you that you had “fat thighs.”  You told me right away.  Mentioned it as if it was nothing.  You said it hurt, but that your other friends stood up for you.  It was no biggie to you.

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We’ve talked endlessly about how we all have different body types, and that yours and mine are drastically different.  You’re okay with that.  We work out together.  We eat right.  You’ve taken my words into your heart, and in typical Giggles fashion, you let it roll off your back.  I, however, did not.  We emailed your teacher anyway, because if that little punk is saying you have fat thighs, I guarantee she’s telling some other, more fragile girl, that her butt is fat.  Bullies work that way.  You understood that, and for the other girls who might be hurt, you agreed to “tattle.”

I love you for that.

Then there are the things that the average kid doesn’t have to deal with. You have worked so hard this year on your academics.  SO hard.  Even with that work, and tutoring, we watched your GPA slip from a 3.7 to a 3.1.  You couldn’t have done more than you did.  You cried.  I’m so sorry you feel so discouraged.  I know I said this to you before, but you have to look at where you came from.  You came from nothing.  You had never really been to school.  While other children were checking out books in an air-conditioned library, you were sitting on a bench in a class of 40 in sub-saharan Africa that had NO books.  You were functionally illiterate.  You came to the U.S. in 3rd grade, were thrown into a classroom and you fought to figure it out.  I know you don’t like to talk about that, but I will.  I am so proud of what you have fought to overcome.  There are gaps, but we are going to figure those out.

I see you read to your little sister all the time.  I’ve heard you verbalize how important that is, because it’s something you never had, and not because your birth mom didn’t want to, but because there was no opportunity.  You had nothing to read.  You want better for “your baby.”

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You tell me all the time that you will go to ‘university.’  Giggles, we are going to get you there.  You can do it, I know you can.  And, Dad and I are going to fight to make sure that even though you’re a ‘well-behaved’ Black child, you won’t fall through the crack that so many of your peers do.  I want you to know that I’m fighting with everything I have.  Meeting after meeting, test score after test score, I’m on it.  We’re not going to stop until we figure out how to address the gaps in your learning that came from lack of opportunity that was NOT your fault.  You’re doing your part.  I promise to do mine.

There is something more important than any of that though.  You are strong, yes.  You are smart, yes.  You are resilient.  You are beautiful.  But, to me, that always comes second to how much love you show to the world around you.  You are kind.   You love with your whole heart.  Even your beginnings didn’t beat that out of you.  You’re willing to take the chance, to open yourself up, even when you might get hurt, even when there might be loss.

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More than being lucky to be your mom, I am lucky to get to see you grow and change.  I am lucky to even know you.  Giggles, you make the world a better place.

–FullPlateMom, who wants to say one more time…older child adoption ROCKS!

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