Today is my daughter Leah’s sixteenth birthday. How the heck did that happen? I remember writing about her tenth birthday during the first week that I had this blog. She was just a little girl then hitting the double digits and now she seems (almost) a grown woman. Leah has matured so much during the past six years and yet she is still the same funny, sweet, crazy, smart, beautiful, creative redhead I’ve always known.
The biggest change for Leah at the moment is that she is in the process of “unschooling” herself. Although she loved her high school and was a straight-A student, she recently left the traditional educational system and is going off on her own. She takes the California High School Proficiency Exam in March and will be creating her own curriculum of classes, internships, traveling, reading, and learning. Another autodidact in the family! She created an extensive PowerPoint presentation for us a few months ago to explain her decision and to address all of our concerns and it was pretty impressive. Her teachers were surprised, sad to lose her, but very supportive.
Still, there’s a lot of criticism out there for people who want to push the envelope and do things a different way, and I give Leah a lot of credit for being able to withstand the pressure to conform to other people’s ideas of what is best. It takes a hell of a lot of initiative to do what she’s doing and I’m so proud of her. . There are people who think we’re nuts for allowing Leah to leave a great school where she was doing so well but I have every confidence in her abilities. Leah still plans to go to college in two years and I’m sure she’ll be a better candidate as a result of this experience. God knows I wish I took a break between high school and college instead of advancing from one institution to the other like a mechanized automaton without being able to take full advantage of the opportunities at my feet.
Leah recently appeared in what is at least her 35th musical, her second production of “Annie” in which she played one of the orphans. I recently found the footage I thought I lost when my computer was stolen a few years ago of Leah in the title role of that play from December 2005. Oh, how young she looks and how amazing it always is for me to see my daughter take center stage with such confidence and abandon. Forgive me, I can't help including a short clip here for posterity:
From the day she was born (literally!) I’ve been singing a certain song to Leah and it’s hard to believe the lyrics are finally accurate. This morning my daughter asked me with a bit of fear in her voice if I’d now be singing this song to her every day for the next year. The answer is…YES! Sorry!
Happy Birthday, Leah! I love you!