sweet sixteen asiko

this week asya, my first born, my first baby, is turning 16.

such a milestone age, sixteen is! sweet sixteen parties…debutante balls…being able to drink legally (in parts of the world)…driving licenses (in parts of the us)…the ability to marry without special parental consent (again, in parts of the world)…there are so many new things that become available to a child of 16.  as i sit and think about all these milestone moments it makes me more and more aware of how my mature, intelligent, beautiful child is truly on the cusp of fully leaving childhood behind and moving onto young adulthood.

this past year, almost from the day she turned 15, in fact, seems to me to have been a series of steps on this journey toward adulthood.  the beginning of ninth grade, when asya was still 14, was a truly trying time.  asya and i butted heads over so many things.  some were mundane and really unnecessary, on my part as much as on hers.  and some were really important.  i needed to put my foot down in order to reinforce the values and ideas that we have worked to teach the girls from the get go.  some of the situations and environments that asya wanted to see for herself and experience firsthand were really not appropriate and to allow her access to these places too early would, had i said yes, gone against the very grain of my ideas of parenting.  making and enforcing rules, taking deep breaths during arguments and tears, and trying to keep reminding asya of just how special and precious she, as a daughter, is to me, was remarkably hard and tiring.

this year, as we celebrate asya’s birthday, and enter into the home stretch of tenth grade, so much has shifted.  asya and i have reached a point where communication is so much easier, first of all, we are able to actually listen to one another and move forward from a point of understanding (most of the time). second, despite her frustrations with me and my rules last year, she managed to continue to excel in her schoolwork and her riding.  the maturity she was able to demonstrate on these fronts served her well and proved to me that she is growing more and more capable of handling difficult and stressful situations.  this in turns, leads me to be more open to her plans and programs.  socially, i have watched proudly as asya worked hard to cultivate and maintain good, healthy relationships with lovely young girls.  some of this has required making sacrifices, and also has required setting healthy and firm boundaries.  i am impressed that at only 16 she is able to do both so skillfully.

dear asya, as you enter the last quarter of school, there are so many exciting things to look forward to! your school trip to nepal is going to be amazing. i feel certain that you will never forget the experiences you have there and the people that you meet. you are already such an open-minded worldly young lady; spending time in the mountains of nepal is sure to only reinforce your love of travel and different cultures.  this summer is going to be busy, busy, busy.  bunches of riding competitions, tons of travel to get there, and probably a whole lot of hard work with donovan… it’s going to be a lot but i know that you are going to do a wonderful job, as you always do, of balancing the work and the fun and keeping up with all your friends along the way! as you and your sisters grow, i am slowly starting to accept the fact that really no amount of planning or predicting on my part seems to work 🙂 so… here’s to just living things as they come, loving the special moments along the way, and enjoying all the time we get to spend together.  i love you my sweet girl, happy birthday.

how asya has changed over the years… but always with the same big heart and beautiful eyes….

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