I’m not entirely certain how it happened, but we have a twelve-year-old. That’s a year away from a teenager. Six from being an adult. Only four from how old Jack was when he met me. 😳 No matter how we divide it, it blows our minds that it seemed like only yesterday we were waiting and praying and hoping we’d be blessed with a baby of our own. Now, she’s the oldest of seven, a woman-child who has a foot still rooted in childhood while taking a very confident step into adulthood.
|Taking Adam for a post-dinner cruise.|
It’s not all fun and games with Evelyn, though. Yeah, she enjoys goofing off and all, but she’s taken a real interest in learning some serious life skills. Washing the dishes? Not so much. Mowing the lawn? Yeah, baby! I’m a *teensy* bit sad about her learning how to mow because I like to mow. Oh, well. At least we have plenty of land and she’s good about taking turns.
Another thing Evelyn loves to do is bake. She does cook dinner once in a while since I kindly remind her she can’t eat only dessert when she’s out on her own, but in truth, baking desserts is where she really shines. I don’t remember what I was doing when I was twelve, but I definitely wasn’t perfecting pineapple upside-down cake.
Her creativity isn’t limited to the kitchen, either. She has a particular affinity for graphic design and imaginative character creation. She can manipulate photos and make it look like her siblings are riding a sparkly unicorn wolf and has mashed together their Chinese zodiac symbol with their favorite animal. When she shows me what she’s created, it’s like getting to take a peek into the way her brain works. I tell ya, it’s fascinating.
I especially love it when she uses her creativity to spoil her siblings. If there’s a holiday coming up or someone’s birthday, she is all over that. Take Henry’s last birthday for example–she sketched Henry’s head onto Spiderman’s body, transferred it to fabric, and turned it into a handsewn pillow. Again, what was I doing at twelve? Not that!
Nowadays, she’s much more helpful with them. She’ll feed and water them, lock them up at night, collect the eggs, knows all their breeds and backstory, and has named each and every one of them. Naturally.
Admittedly, she isn’t always thrilled about doing all the other chores–there is whining, possibly coupled with a few eye rolls–but there’s one job I’ve never even had to ask her to do because she enjoys doing it that much. What is it? Picking chamomile. Every spring, the flowers come out when the weather is gorgeous and chances are, Evelyn’s sitting in the front yard, snapping the flowers off to be dried and turned into tea. The ironic part is that she doesn’t even like chamomile tea. 😂
Don’t think Evelyn’s life is full of babysitting and farm chores and baking for a large family, either. She also has lots of outside activities that she enjoys, even if she pretends like she doesn’t. Take hiking for example. She claims she doesn’t like wandering around in the forest, getting all sweaty and tired and sometimes soaked in unanticipated rainstorms, but after she gets her complaining out and we’re warmed up on the trail, she’s one of our best hikers. She leads the pack and as a bonus, she’s getting big enough to carry some serious weight in her backpack, especially if it’s geodes or fossils she’s found.
If there ever was a water baby, it’d be Evelyn. She took to swimming with enthusiasm even before several summers of swim lessons. It eventually led to her being on the middle school swim team, where she has been learning to perfect her strokes and is able to unleash her surprisingly competitive side. She is so matter-of-fact about her skills and work ethic that I can’t help but laugh when she tells me what she says to teammates that she passes while swimming laps at practice (“If you don’t want me to pass you, swim faster.” Zing!).
Though she loves to paddle around in a pool, her love of water really shines when she’s in our pond. She’s been coaching me on getting faster (I’m eyeballing doing a triathalon in the future) and pushes me to swim harder (she’s already waaaaaaay faster than me, though I’m working on remedying that…we shall see who comes out on top). Mostly, she just loves to be in the water. She goes down the slide and can cannonball like a pro. Sometimes, she just floats around, letting herself drift aimlessly.
The day of Evelyn’s birthday (waaaay back in May and shortly after Adam arrived) was a lot like how birthdays normally go around here. She was excused from chores, she had her favorite meal, we spent the day swimming, and she opened her pile of gifts with grateful excitement. It was special yet lowkey. My favorite sort of celebration.
Part of the joy we’ve discovered with having children is that watching them learn, grown, and experience life reminds us a lot of what it felt like to be a child (and without reliving the awkwardness of it all over again thank goodness). Being a parent I think is exactly what Peter Pan was looking for–that perpetual enjoyment and carefree amusement that youth seems to bring while there’s also an excited anticipation for the future. We’re not sure what life will bring for Evelyn, but we know she’ll meet it with determination, grit, cheer, and faith.