My daughter is a wonderful child. She loves to laugh and play games. She's a genuinely caring individual who loves animals and people. She is also entering that awkward stage where she's not quite sure what to do with herself. Her dress, her hair, her likes and dislikes all change with the seasons (it seems that way, anyway) because she's finding herself. And like most kids her age the ideas she has for what she should look like and what's cool come from her school friends.
Her issues -- and I hesitate to call them that, as she isn't in distress -- are compounded a bit by the fact that she is growing like a weed, if said weed were on growth hormones that had been injected with steroids and stretched on a rack.
She already wears size 6 1/2 women's shoes and buys her dresses in the junior's section. Did I mention that she's nine? To give you an idea check out these pictures from the 2011 Butterfly Ball. Macy is the one on the left. The girl on the right is six months older than Macy. There's a little bit of visual hyperbole going on here, as Macy's friend Bella is little on the small side for her age (though not alarmingly so).
Macy's got that gawky awkwardness her dad suffered through as a kid. I was really tall for my age, and running the bases in little league made me look like a hyperactive chicken experiencing shock therapy. This is not to say that Macy looks like that (or any other sort of comical beast) on the soccer pitch. She honestly doesn't. But I think she's old enough to know that she's a little different while at the same time being too young to really understand that everyone is different. I'm working on that.
In the meantime, I'm enouraged when I see her try something new and break out of what she knows is safe and familiar. At the Butterfly Ball I got out on the dance floor and shook my groove thing. I didn't do this because I'm a good dancer (that's entirely beside the point) or because I enjoy it (I'm more of a 'sit at the bar and laugh at the white girls' type), but because I didn't want Macy to spend the entirety of a dance wishing she understood why she was too shy to get out there.
I was able to convince her after awhile (with the much-appreciated help of young Bella who had no reservations about breaking out the Sprinkler, the Cowboy and the zombie moves from Thriller whether the situation called for it or not) that even though we were standing on a crowded dance floor, no one could see us. Nobody out there gave a damn what we were up to as long as we didn't step on them. Once she realized what I was saying was true, she opened up. She even came up with a couple moves on her own. It was fun to watch.
That brings me to another tentative step into self-determination she is taking: she wants to be called "MJ" now. Actually, she brought up to me a while back and, like an idiot I didn't take her seriously. But I'm trying to accomodate her now, even if most of my sentences start with, "Macy -- I mean MJ". It's hard to call somebody one thing for nine years and then switch, but I can see the smile she gets in her eyes when I correct myself. I think she sees it as an affirmation that she can make some decisions for herself and determine her identity. I think that's great.