And suddenly, you are eleven. In the midst of moving and buying cars and sorting out new school arrangements and figuring out where the closest grocery store is and how to get there and the furniture being dropped off and finally getting a fridge and a washer and dryer and unpacking and all the chaos and insanity of moving to a different country, your birthday arrived. And you are, unbelievably, eleven years old.
I wanted to wake you up this morning by shouting, “Yer a Witch, Bridget” in my very best Hagrid impersonation, but you were awake before me. Your Hogwarts letter WAS waiting for you though, and your Dad and I jumped through hoops to make that happen. But there are some chances you only get once in life. Making sure you had a Hogwarts letter on your 11th birthday just three weeks after moving to England and only two weeks before you start school at your very own (Muggle) version of Hogwarts — in an actual castle and everything– we knew we couldn’t miss the chance. We had some key help from Lucy, who is fortunately just as Harry Potter obsessed as you and I, and has the design skills to back up the wish. It took Daddy and I 45 minutes to find two blank sheets of printer paper in all the mess of boxes in the house, by the way. And I burned my fingers melting a crayon to make the wax seal. It was totally worth it.
You knew it was coming, though, because you know your Dad and I.
In many ways, sometimes having you around is like having a third adult in the house. We know we can rely on you, like when the movers arrived with our furniture yesterday, but I had to leave to take all your brothers to see their new school, so we asked you to basically be me. You had to check off the inventory of 257 boxes as they came in the house, and, based on the contents listed on the check sheet, direct the movers to the correct room in the house to deposit each box. According to your Dad, you did me proud, and it would have taken twice as long to get it all sorted out if you hadn’t been there to help Daddy. As always, Daddy and I are grateful and proud to have you. You rock.
This is an interesting birthday, and an interesting year lies ahead for you (and all of us). Although in America you’d be going into 6th grade — finally the big kid of the school! — in England, you’re starting what is essentially your first year of high school. You’ll be the youngest, in a school with kids who are graduating and getting ready to go to University next year, and I can hardly imagine your tiny self in such a setting.
You aren’t scared though. You’re excited and, as you’ve told us approximately one billion times in the last two weeks, you just want school to start already. Your lack of intimidation takes away any nervousness I have. You’ve got this.
My only hope is that you really take advantage of this experience and that you make the most of this amazing and rare opportunity that you’ve got. I hope you try new things and take chances and you find and define yourself in this new place, free of who you ever were before. If anyone can do it, it’s you.
You, my little, but not-so-little, girl, are tres sweet. You’re also tres sassy and tres funny and tres smart and tres strong. You have a great sense of adventure, and an admirable willingness to try new things. You are equal parts serious and goofy, smart and silly. I like hanging out with you.
Your brothers do too. No matter what game they’re playing, what plan they’re hatching, no matter what they’re doing, they always enjoy it more when you’re involved. I love watching you guys together, even though the fun parts are balanced out by a good portion of shrieking, whining, fighting, and wrestling. I’ll take it.
I hope this year of Eleven is an amazing, defining one for you, and that when you’re old you look back on our year(s) in England as life-changing and eye-opening. I hope you love your new school and make wonderful friends and have incredible experiences. I hope you continue on the path you’ve set for yourself so far, and you continue to be the bright light you’ve always been. I’m so excited to watch you be you.
I love you a bushel and a peck, and I’m grateful to have you in my life. Happy eleventh birthday my baby girl.