In many respects, she is still in a kid; but in so many others, she isn’t. She has truly come into her own and grown in so many ways this year that this post of over 2,000 words still can’t quite convey. The coming year will be full of new challenges with us both, namely middle school starting next September.
--- Turning 11
The predictions I make in these birthday posts have almost become a jinx of Kylie’s life, and my own.
This last year was full of more challenges than the previous year had prepared us for. The ongoing saga with COVID had a bigger impact last year than 2021 did, both because we had adapted to a lot of the new norms with how life is going to be now, but also because school was largely unaffected by it. There weren’t any school days missed due to COVID exposure in the classroom or her pod1, no sessions of online school mandated by the Provincial government, and not many concerns about hanging out with friends outside of school like there were last year. Instead of challenges with COVID, there were challenges with bullying.
I don’t think it will be helpful to get into the details of what happened in grade 6, but it became bad enough that shortly after spring break in March, Kylie was pulled out of school completely. I don’t think I have ever been more disappointed in a system than at the end of April. The constant talk in the school about being against bullying went for naught, and there was no option presented when there was a discussion with the teacher and vice-principal about us considering pulling Kylie out of school. When Kylie stopped going, we didn’t hear anything more from the teacher or school, which was rather surprising.
Of course, COVID cancelled all the grade 6 graduation plans with the annual camping trip and school dance. There wasn’t much need for the school to contact us to see how Kylie was doing. The middle schools were in contact with me to assist with the transition into grade 7 already, so I didn’t feel a need to reach out to the schools either.
Pulling Kylie out of school was likely the best decision we could make after several years of uncomfortable stories coming from school. Her mom took over the schooling while I focused on work, which was a challenge in itself of going back and forth multiple times in the day, but it ultimately worked. Kylie grew more confident in her math abilities, still maintained her strength in English comprehension, and discovered new ways to learn.
I think those two months of home-schooling helped fuel a more positive transition into middle school. Again, more challenges to overcome with moving classrooms and having to deal with not one or two teachers a year, but more likely around ten for the year. Not to mention a new school environment, away from all the other kids that were mainly at the elementary school since kindergarten, and having to form new friends. This is not something I ever did well as a kid, still don’t as an adult, so I am thankful that Kylie’s mom is an extrovert and Kylie has grown to be more comfortable with approaching new people. Needless to say, the first four months have gone much better than expected academically and the friendships that are forming are stronger than before.
This last month, Kylie has had more sleepovers with friends than I can remember ever happening through elementary school. Tonight while I write this, she’s been laughing away in her room talking or video chatting with a friend. Her laughter reminds me a lot of my sister and how she talked on the phone (an archaic landline phone) with her friends in middle or high school. The other weird parallel is that her friend shares the same name as one of my sister’s good friends through life.
It’s both fun (hearing her laughter, seeing the friends want to get together) and aggravating (plans changing and cancelling constantly, the drama between friends) to see the social growth happening. I think I will take these challenges over the other ones of Kylie constantly complaining about being bored and not being able to do anything. I do enjoy the new found freedom that I have now, too. Being able to go to the mall for Christmas shopping, for example, and splitting up completely was a lot more enjoyable than having to follow Kylie around to buy gifts. That independence has grown with Kylie being able to walk down to the store on her own, or being able to tell her plans to meet up downtown at a certain location while she is out walking around with friends.
There is a noticeable shift between this year and last in too many ways to count. I probably say this every year, but I think this year really stands out as the moment that Kylie has started to branch out, away from me and her mom, to explore who she is, likes, dislikes, style, and making stronger decisions on what she wants to do. It’s a harder period of time, as a dad, knowing how I am able to influence is dramatically different than in years past.
Again, I wouldn’t change anything right now. As hard as it is to see Kylie be less dependent on me, I know it is a necessary step in life. As the calendar flips over to 2022 and brings a whole new set of challenges, I am more confident than ever that Kylie will thrive and overcome them after everything that she has gone through this last year.
Happy birthday, Kylie.
2021 has given us a wealth of questionable music that I could share, and even more questionable TikTok videos. Instead, I will share one of Kylie’s favourite songs from the beginning of the year. (Kylie confirms it is one of her top 3 songs of 2021 – a dad success story.)
- Turning 11
- Turning 10 Years Old
- Turning 9 Years Old
- Turning 8 Years Old
- Turning 7 Years Old
- Turning 6 Years Old
- Number 5
- Number 4
- That being said, the Government announced a delay in when school will return for 2022, delaying it a week so far. ↩