What most people don’t understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you’re eleven, you’re also nine and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven but you don’t. You open your eyes and you feel everything’s just like yesterday, only it’s today. And you don’t feel eleven at all. You feel like you are still ten. And you are- underneath the year that makes you eleven. Like some days you may say something stupid, and that’s the part of you that’s still ten. Or maybe some days you might need to sit on your mum’s lap because you’re scared, and that’s the part of you that’s still five. And maybe one day when you’r all grown up maybe you will need to cry like if you’re three, and that’s okay. That’s what I should tell my friends when they are sad and need to cry. Maybe they’re feeling three.
Because the way you grow old is like an onion ir like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit inside one another, each year inside the next one. That’s how growing up is.
You don’t feel eleven. Not right away. It takes a few days, weeks even, sometimes even months before you say eleven when they ask you. And you don’t feel smart eleven, not until you’re nearly twelve. That’s the way it is.