When my daughter inevitably says to me one day in the heat of an argument, "You never loved me!" I shall show her these pictures of when I let her have a sleepover for her birthday party to prove my love for her.
Yes, I'm aware it says "APPY BIRTHDA."  That's eleven candles.  
You don't get extra.  Them's the rules

How awesome would it be if my GPS system could be replaced by a tiny piñata, telling me where to turn?

A sleepover was the only thing she really asked for and I feel like I say no way too much of the time most days, so as much as I hate the idea of sleepovers, I acquiesced and told her she could have a sleepover with three friends.  One couldn't come and that was just fine with me.

When all is said and done, eleven year old girls are pretty fun. We forced them made the suggestion to watch The Princess Bride, mostly because one of them wanted to watch The Fault in Our Stars and I kinda thought a movie about teenagers who get cancer and die might put a damper on the evening. (Also, I really didn't want to deal with questions about cancer, death, and teenage sex from two children who aren't mine.) [Also, because I read that book when I was trying to decide if it was appropriate for The Dormouse to read and it made me... feel things.  Which is clearly unacceptable.]  They watched the entire movie while lying like this on the couch: in rapt attention, but cuddled together, holding hands throughout.  It's like looking at an adorable puppy and I cannot relate to this in any way whatsoever.

I love her friends; they are great kids.  Smart and funny and self-assured and full of life.  But honestly, having all three of them in the house?  It was deafening.  I do not remember squealing that much when I was an eleven year old girl.  I do not remember having that much to squeal about.  I do not remember being an eleven year old girl when I was an eleven year old girl.  It was like watching a caricature of a stereotype.

After the movie, we set up a tent in a room downstairs, gave them sleeping bags and threw some glowing balloons into the room before shutting the door. I think they slept, but I have no evidence of it.  

The next day, we took two of them to a mall and let them troll the aisles of my second least favorite store, the Claire's, which is like the Justice, in that it still looks like a unicorn barfed glitter all over the store, but it doesn't look like the unicorn ate a sweater first.  

Because we are gluttons for punishment.

And also it made for an opportunity to film when when they were not looking and we are evil people who need good blackmail fodder for when they are older.

We had a good weekend.  

This year started junior high school.  We have a whole new set of challenges, but in a lot of ways, it's easier.  The routine of changing classes agrees with The Dormouse, probably, as I told her when she worried about it over the summer, because she only has an hour with each teacher and if that teacher is a pain, then just wait an hour and you get to go to a new teacher who's a pain in new ways.  I think the teachers do better with this format too.  I've only emailed the Principal once so far this year and I waited until seven whole weeks into the school year before doing so, which I think is a record.  She's taking Spanish and is really excited about that.  So much so that every time we go into a Mexican  restaurant, she insists on ordering in Spanish and but first I have to announce to the waiter (in Spanish) that my daughter would like to order in Spanish - to prepare them - and then she spends the first ten minutes sitting at our table, practicing under her breath the words she will say and double checking the grammar with us.  So far, all the waiters and waitresses have been incredibly patient with this.  I had to live in South America before I became comfortable ordering in a restaurant, so I think that's pretty cool.  She auditioned for county honors orchestra last month and got in, which I'm told, is pretty unusual for a sixth grader (but maybe less unusual for a viola player).   She also confided to me this year that she likes a boy, which is simultaneously wonderful that she trusts me enough to tell me that stuff, but also like a knife slowly plunging into my heart. 

I need to work on talking to her more.  We've paired down our lives as much as I can right now, but I still feel like our entire day, every day, is just moving from one quehacer to another and there's never any time just to sit down next to her and talk.  That's my goal for age eleven.  To hear her more and talk at her less.  It's not always easy because I really believe that my eleven year old, brilliant, capable daughter should be able to eat a meal occasionally without putting her fingers directly into the mashed potatoes and washing them off in her glass of juice.  Or use a fork to bring food to the mouth rather than placing her open mouth near her plate and shoveling food into it by tipping the plate while her hair drags through the food.  Or perhaps she could remember that she needs to get dressed AND brush her teeth AND put on shoes all before it's time to meet the school bus with oh... only three reminders instead of twenty-three and a handful of threats. When do those caring about how you look and act genes kick in anyway?  I'm gonna be pretty happy when that happens, but it'll probably just mean giving up a bathroom for the next eight years.

But even given all the tugs of wars, it's still pretty awesome getting to see her grow up and figure out who she's gonna be one day.  I think we'll keep her.  Appy Birthda, Dormouse!  Maybe next year, you get an H.