My name is Victoria Angelique Barkley. I was named after my grandmother, Victoria, and today is her seventy-fifth birthday and my twelfth. Downstairs the family is preparing for our birthday. We're supposed not to know, but Granny and I are hiding in her room and are having fun guessing what kind of presents we will both get.
After lunch, Granny will probably take a nap, as she usually does, and then I, and some of my brothers and sisters, will wait for our friends to come to the ranch for my birthday tea. I have lots of brothers and sisters because Mommy and Daddy like having children. I asked them why once and they just said they have a lot of love. Seemed like a good answer to me. They've just had one more. Little baby James was born two months ago, and sleeps in the nursery with Nicholas who is a year older. Fortunately, they will not be coming to my party as they tend to scream a lot. They are too young to know I am twelve.
Granny is brushing my hair. Mother normally does this for me, but because she is busy, granny volunteered. She is going to dress it up with some of her hair combs and pins. I feel quite special and grown up. She has so many nice things on her vanity and she is allowing me to try various things on. She tells me it reminds of when my Aunt Audra was growing up. My Aunt Audra lives with her own family now but visits when she can. She can't come today which is sad. I will miss not seeing my cousins.
Uncle Nick will be here with Aunt Jenny. Aunt Jenny is expecting a baby and is getting very big. She will probably lie down later on and Uncle Nick will as usual fuss over her. On the outside he can seem quite scary, but he's such a softie with the family. He and my father are very close and he always fusses when my daddy is ill.
Uncle Jarrod and Aunt Abby will also be coming with their children. The children are very young and very shy. I'm afraid me and my brothers and sisters can be a bit overwhelming at times and I think that they get scared of just how many of us there are. Because they live in San Francisco, they don't see us as often as Uncle Nick's children. Uncle Nick and his family see us all the time. In fact, my daddy has to remind him sometimes he doesn't live here any more.
Granny's lying down on her bed now. She's going to take a quiet nap. She has asked me to wake her up in ten minutes. Seems to me the young and the old sleep a lot. When you are in between you don't seem to need as much sleep.
She has made me look very different. Gosh! Is this what I will look like when I am older? When my young man comes to court me? Not that I have a young man, of course. I don't know where I will find a husband. None of the boys in my class are at all grown up. Boys can be so childish. They say and do the silliest things. It's a wonder they ever grow into men, like my daddy! Still, it would be nice one day. To have a husband, I mean. I can't imagine anyone as handsome as my daddy though, or me being ever as beautiful as my mother.
There was a ball here last week. I sneaked out of my bedroom with little Rosie and Clara and we watched through the banister railings as everyone danced. Rose and Clara didn't quite see it the same way as I did. They are too young to know about romance, but I saw my daddy walk over to my mother who was speaking with Mr. and Mrs.Cutter. He asked her to dance and then took her in his arms to the sound of the music. Oh, it was so romantic! That's what I would like one day. To have the look on my face that my mother did that night. I don't think my mother saw anyone else in the room from that moment. Granny calls their relationship very special. I don't quite know what she means by that. I guess when I am older I might. It seems that there are things that adults understand that children don't and I am still a child. For a little while, anyhow.
Already, twelve seems different to eleven somehow. I'm not sure why? But I feel it inside. I am definitely more grown up than I was last year. Mother calls me her little helper because I help with the little one's so much. She knows she can trust me to look after them. I like taking care of them and when I am married I am going to have a large family just like her and Daddy have, only perhaps not quite as many. Maybe six or seven? Yes six or seven is what I will have.
Granny is stirring. It's not yet been ten minutes. I do love my granny. She has white hair and even though she is old, she is extremely beautiful. She has very pretty eyes. She isn't my real grandmother. My father is her step-son, not her real son. My real grandmother's name was Leah. My older sister was named after her. I never knew my grandmother Leah, but daddy tells me stories about her sometimes and I am sure I would have liked her. His eyes water when he talks about her. I think he misses her very much. I think it's funny to love someone you have never met, but I do somehow. I feel her in my heart and when I go to bed I think of her sometimes staring down at me from the night sky.
Granny Victoria is the granny I have known all my life though and I adore her. She is fun. We often steal away to her room like this and she tells me stories of the past. I like hearing about the past and how my daddy came to live with her all those years ago. She has that look in her eyes when she talks about my daddy. It's always there. I don't know quite how to describe it and I know you want to know. All I can say is that he is someone who is very special to her and it shows. Do you know what I mean?
My granny is calling to me.. I have to go. You do to? Oh, what a shame. I was enjoying our time together. Granny will be sorry she missed you. Thank you for listening to me share my twelve-year-old thoughts.