Sublimely Sixteen

Elizabeth is sixteen now. It is easy to get lost in thought while trying to come up with something coherent to say about her. I’ve pondered talking about her birth story. About her active nature even in the womb. I want to talk about how she knew how to get the attention on her from the very first minute of her very first day.

You see, Elizabeth bears herself with power. She owns that power and doesn’t let anyone forget it. Yes, she’s sixteen and has her angst. She also cuddles like a fiend. She is beautifully active–from riding her bike to school and everywhere else to swinging from some silk at the top of the Actor’s Gymnasium.

She’s lively. I see her light up a room with a smile. I see her stick up for the underdog. As she get older, I see more and more empathy for the disadvantaged and care about the forgotten. Yes, I still tell her to check her privilege–but not as much as I do the other children.

Elizabeth combines her confidence and power with extraordinary intelligence. She sometimes hides that in her efforts to spite people she does not respect. Yes, of course, that is cutting off her nose to spite her face, but it is how she does things. You are left in no doubt that she COULD do something if she chose to do it.

An example: Elizabeth, like her siblings before her, like her mother, chose to learn to play an instrument. Unlike her siblings and mother, she actually set forth and practiced for hours. She taught herself entirely–no lessons, no class, no “you need to practice if you want to be any good.” She decided to play. She looked up how to do what she wanted to do. She keeps at it. That strength and determination will get her far.

Even though you might think this house is a battle zone sometimes, with all the kids willing to blame Elizabeth for being a “hellspawn” and a “brat” there is also an intense love for her. Part of that is because she very much typifies “I am allowed to say and do everything I want to my family, but say one word truly against them and you are done.” There is a lot of love in Elizabeth. She is fierce in that love.

Lizzy and RJ Cuddling

Speaking of love, she has her first “real” boyfriend this year. She seems to be handling the relationship with far more maturity than I had at her age. She is clear on her limits. She didn’t freak out when I gave my standard know why you are having sex and do you remember how and what and when you need to use birth control. She brings the boy over and exposes him to her family. Not only that–he seems to have the character to not only tolerate it but seems to enjoy it. That is far rarer than you might think. By the time you’ve raised five out of six kids to young adulthood, plus some strays, you see a lot of love interests come and go. It does my heart good to see that raising a confident, smart, young woman can mean attracting kids who have some of the same values.

Elizabeth also loves the dogs with a passion. She will yell that they are wild. Crazy! Eat her stuff. She tells me we have too many and in the next breath she says “we should rescue more.” She’s also a big fan of cats, hedgehogs, oh, pretty much every animal.

Yes, Elizabeth is challenging. She is hot-blooded. She is sometimes the child that makes me laugh and cry at the same moment because she is right–but not right. I want to scoop her up and keep her cuddled next to me always…but also know that of all the children–she is the one most uniquely qualified to take the world by storm, on her own terms, and be the amazing change we all want in the world.

Happy Birthday Elizabeth. Anything. Anywhere. Anytime. I love you Little Bit.