Oh, Jen. How in the world can you be 12 years old? How is it possible that yesterday, I was just carrying you around on my hip, and today, you and I are nearly the same height? How is it, that when you need a pair of jeans, you steal mine, or that I often catch you wearing my favorite t-shirt? I feel that you should still be in the toddler section, grabbing every single piece of cheetah or leopard-print fabric you can, begging, "Mommy! PEESE!! It's cheetah!" Time has gone by way, WAY too quickly.
This year, you have outdone yourself--and exceeded our expectations of you--again and again. You were so proud of yourself when you achieved your Bronze Award in Girl Scouts with your Junior troop. You love Girl Scouts so very much, and I'm so glad that you do! You bridged to Cadettes, and the smile on your face when you crossed that bridge was huge. You met your hero, Dr. Laurie Marker, and that moment remains a highlight in your life thus far. After talking with Dr. Marker, you decided to take action to help your beloved cheetahs in a bigger way--particularly after the Cheetah Conservation Fund named you 'Student Ambassador.' You contacted the National Girl Scout Council and talked with them about creating a patch to help the Cheetah Conservation Fund. You obtained approval from the CCF and the Girl Scout Council and designed a patch. I did my part by finding someone to create the patches, and right now, as I type this, the CCF is getting funding to print these patches so they will be available TO EVERY SCOUT IN THE WORLD. Each patch will come with a bundle of information on how to save the cheetahs. Jenna, you are amazing, and soon, scouts all over the world will have the opportunity to learn more about the Cheetah Conservation Fund and how to save your favorite animal. To you, it doesn't seem like a big deal--but it IS, Jen. For you, it's all about the cheetahs.
For the past 2 weeks, you've also been volunteering your time at a community theatre. Every Monday and Wednesday, you intern from 5-7pm, helping with classes. I have to admit--I didn't know how well you'd do, but you have done amazing! I have been told by the teachers that they love having you, and that you're doing a great job. That makes my heart so happy. I'm hoping that this exposes you to new things--things that you don't know you're capable of. Again, I'm so proud of you.
School is going well for you, but you're finding it somewhat difficult because it's CHALLENGING. You told/whined to me the other day, "But this is haaaarrrrddddd....school was never this hhhaaarrrrddddd!!!" Guess what--it's because school has never challenged you before. Your school work challenges ME, and there's a lot of work to be had in this curriculum. Your favorite, so far, is Art History. You loved your studies on the Cubi Series, the drawings in the caves of Lascaux, and cuneiform. In fact, you've been working on your cuneiform project for the last week. You've decided to take the Mesopotamian epic of the creation of the gods Apsu and Timat, tell it in your own words (take it out of cuneiform and write it in English), and create illustrations. Your drawings are so good, and the way you've told your story is even better! You definitely have a gift for narrative storytelling.
You're loving Literature, and your assigned book (which makes me happy)! Your book is titled, A Year of Impossible Goodbyes, and it details one family's struggle during the Korean War. You're very emotional towards the characters and their plight, and the essays you've written in reference to this book have been wonderful! I'm so proud of your writing skills, Jenna. They're excellent, when you WANT them to be. Academically, this year is going to be an overall struggle for you--simply because you're expected to do a lot of work, and manage your time with that work appropriately. Anyone who knows you understands that you + time management = lackadaisical. This past week, you did much better, so i'm hoping that we see continuous improvement. We know you can do it, and we know that you're more than capable!
You were booked for your first modeling job this year, too! You did a shoot for Academy, and you loved it! You are to be paid a pretty penny for it, and you have decided to give a quarter of it to the CCF. The rest, will go to Monster High dolls, i'm sure. And yes, I still can't believe you love these dolls so. BUT, i'm not complaining. As much as I tire of hearing about Monster High, I encourage you to be a child as long as possible. 12 is still so, so young, and you have a life ahead of you--play with the damn dolls, kid, and love every-freaking minute of it. You don't give a rat's ass if other girls make fun of you, and THAT makes me happy. You don't compare yourself to anyone else, you don't try to act or 'fit-in' in any specific area--and THAT makes me even HAPPIER. You are YOU. There is something to be said for young ladies that don't care if they're 'different,' that don't care about what brand of clothes they wear, that don't think they need makeup to look 'pretty,' that don't care what boys think of them--Girls like that grow up to be strong, independent, happy, secure women. And really...what mother doesn't want that for their child?
Do you realize how freaking awesome you are? I kind of hope you don't. Because one day, when you're in the back of a truck in Namibia, with your crazy hair in a pile on the top of your head, with comfortably torn jeans, a dusty shirt, and nasty gloves from throwing raw meat out to a snarling cheetah, I want you to be able to take a deep breath, look at that African sunset and have a revelation: "Holy shit. I am amazingly awesome."
I love you, Jenna. I love you more than I can ever tell you. I love you all the spots.
Happy 12th birthday, my amazing, beautiful, cheetah-hearted baby,