she turned eleven (soLs)

Our oldest turned eleven. Eleven. Eleven. Eleven.

Sandra Cisneros writes —

Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one. That’s how being eleven years old is. 

I can see it in her. She turned eleven and yet there’s all those other years stacked inside of her. I always thought twelve would be the milestone birthday, because when she’s twelve more of those years inside of her will be spent with us than without us.

But there’s something special about eleven. She is more herself this year than ever before. Her smile is natural and it comes easily. It’s the sweet smile of a little girl who is starting to believe she can depend on her family.

And her heart for others is absolutely astounding. She said, “Do you think it’s okay to ask my friends to not bring presents, but to bring a donation instead?”

“A donation for what?” I asked.

“I’m not sure, but I’ve been thinking that I don’t really need more stuff, but maybe someone else could use something. Then I’d be able to give something because of my birthday.”

She loves horses. There’s a local stable — Magic Meadows, a place for special needs adults and children. They need saddles. Now they need one less, all because a little girl turned eleven and wanted to give to others.

For her birthday dinner she wanted to stay home, saying, “I like your food better, and this way we can spend more time together without being rushed. Do you think we’ll have time to cuddle on the couch and watch a movie too?”

She turned eleven. Even more importantly, all those years are stacking up, making her the person she was meant to be. Eleven. Eleven. Eleven.

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  1. She gets that goodness (wanting friends to bring donations, not presents) from the values you, Andy, and your extended families have instilled in her. For that alone, you should be proud.

    Happy birthday, Hannah. May all of your hopes, wishes, and dreams come true.

  2. Hannah sounds like a pretty amazing 11 year old who is wise well beyond her 11 years. I suspect her future is bright with potential to make the world a better place because she already knows what is most important.

  3. Smiles and tears. What a lucky family you are to have such a special young lady. To be thinking of others at only 11–she must be an “old soul”.

  4. There is something special about eleven. There is something special about her. There is something special about you, your family's approach to living, and your way of capturing that life with beautiful language. Her years are stacking up inside you as well.

  5. I heard Sandra Cisneros speak last week at the National Book Festival. Yesterday I shared with my students her tip to write about strong emotions, a new strategy for them to try out in their Writer's Notebooks.
    So glad to hear your happy post about a beautiful young lady turning eleven! I think the eleventh birthday is special because it's the first palindrome birthday and each succeeding palindrome birthday is eleven years later.

  6. What a beautiful slice about a beautiful daughter. It's been a long time since I've had an eleven year old and our twin granddaughters aren't anywhere near that age, so I have this to look forward to. Enjoy this year.