Ain’t no thing like me except me
- Rocket Raccoon, Guardians of the Galaxy
For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way
- Mike the Mouse, Sing (and Frank Sinatra)
I went back this morning and read the last birthday blog that I had written for Natalie. It was the Tomboy Princess, and I wrote it eight years ago. It was very interesting to see how much things haven’t changed with Natalie, and how things have changed very much. Since I have neglected writing about her for so long, today - her 14th birthday - seemed like a good time to rectify that situation.
For example, Natalie claims to not like talking to people. She will often ask me to order for her because she doesn’t want to talk to the waiter. But, she gets upset when Gabe doesn’t say hello to the teachers in carline. And she will straight up respectfully disagree with a teacher in front of an entire class without a second thought. How can a person be so timid and so bold? Because she is Natalie.
From her arrival in this world, Natalie has done things her own way. Actually, from before she arrived. She was situated breach in her momma. The doctor tried to get her to flip, and it appeared like she had the day before her arrival. When we got to the delivery? She had rolled back around, just to be ornery. As a baby and toddler, she was fiercely stubborn and independent, and unbelievably clingy. This has been her M.O. for her entire life. She combines so many things that seemingly should never match. She is brilliant, but has trouble memorizing lists. She is highly opinionated, but also follows inexplicable popular trends. She is an artist in drawing and baking and singing and violin playing, but she will go long stretches not wanting to do any of them.
Natalie realizes all of this and doesn’t really care. She actually embraces it. She openly will say she is awkward and joke about her gaffes. She plans on doing color guard next year in high school, but then will describe how she sees it going. She will begin the performance, only to have it stopped a few minutes later. The director’s perch is on fire, kids are laying on the ground bleeding, people are impaled with flags, she is standing over by the dumpsters. The directors are yelling, “Natalie stop! You have run horribly amok!”
I have never really met someone who appears to be so comfortable in her own skin. Being her parent, I have heard those moments where she is doubting herself. But most of the time she is proud of who she is. She celebrates herself in her entirety. That is a lesson I have never learned.
As my sweet girl has grown into a lovely lady, I am routinely taken by surprise by her beauty and poise. She will come out of her room for school, wearing a very fashionable outfit and wearing it well. Her new haircut only has served to enhance her natural beauty and accelerate her maturity. I will just smile at her and say, “You’re pretty.” Some people would demurely turn their heads. Others would try to refuse the compliment. And some others would soak it in. Natalie goes her own route. She pulled her head back so she creates a double chin, makes a dumb facial expression, and gives herself buck teeth. Then she squawks, “Thanks.” That’s just like Nat. She takes a tender moment and turns it on its head.
Natalie also has developed a very strong view of the goings on in the world. She is a strong proponent of women’s rights - even getting into spats at school defending her position. She believes that everyone deserves to be treated well, regardless of beliefs or coolness factor. She doesn’t stand for mistreatment and injustice of herself or anyone. This has led her into conflicts with teachers and students, but I would rather her stand up for her convictions than go the easy path. I doubt most fourteen year olds have enough awareness of the world around them to even think about these issues, let alone have strong opinions on them.
I have strong dreams and desires for all of my kids. With Natalie, I’m so extremely curious as to where she will end up when she is grown. I would not be surprised at all if she ends up famous, changing people all over the world. I also wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up living on an island, running a little surfboard and coffee shop. She would fit either track well and would keep on being her unique and awesome self. I know one thing for sure: she will do it her way, like nobody else can.