Think back to how you rang in the new year back when you were in elementary school. Probably some variation of sparkling grape juice, those crinkly headbands that dig into your scalp after roughly seven minutes and relentlessly begging your parents to let you stay up 'til midnight, right?
Which is absolutely what Blue Ivy Carter did to mark the start of 2020—you know back when New Year's Eve parties were more festive than dangerous—except not at all because at 9-years-old she's already cooler than pretty much everyone.
A year ago, before the coronavirus torpedoed most social plans, Beyoncé and Jay-Z's firstborn accompanied them to a bash also attended by Megan Thee Stallion, one of 2019's biggest success stories, a musician who managed to launch an entire movement simply by declaring that people should own their confidence.
But with all deference to the Houston native (hailed as "the future of hip-hop" by no less than Time), in her Instagram upload with two-thirds of the Carter clan, she's entirely upstaged by an elementary schooler who's mastered both her angles and the ability to exude utter coolness.
Because forget Hot Girl Summer, Blue Ivy's entire existence is a trend worth following.
Still years away from middle school, she has already claimed a BET Award and an NAACP Image Award (due to her songwriting credit on "Brown Skin Girl" off The Lion King: The Gift album), a slot on the Billboard Hot 100 (she also sings the track's opening lyrics), a Grammy nod that could see her collecting another trophy come March, and—thanks to a stylist, an innate understanding about how one wears couture and a closet full of Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana creations—her rightful spot on countless best dressed lists.
A newly minted audiobook narrator, a beauty line, skincare line, fashion line—really any line the tween puts her stamp of approval on would sell out within minutes—are presumed to be forthcoming as soon as Mom and Dad work through that whole trademark battle. Because their lawyers' claims that Blue Ivy is a "cultural icon" isn't a hyperbole dreamt up by overly proud parents. She really is a pint-sized trendsetter "reported on by popular press, and whose name generates millions of hits on a Google search," as their brief details.
Which is pretty much what everyone anticipated when music's reigning queen and king—Beyoncé and Jay-Z having some 55 Grammys and 20 number one albums between them—welcomed their first heir exactly nine years ago today.
Beyoncé's decision to reveal her bump mid-performance at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards ensured their offspring would be a scene stealer from the beginning. And by the time the multi-hyphenate delivered at New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital, the halls aswarm with her security detail, Baby Carter hysteria had reached a heightened pitch.
Perhaps that's why, the couple, oft-guarded about the more personal aspects of their relationship, have been generous with photos, Beyoncé's website generally the go-to spot to view the latest and greatest pictures of her kin. It's almost as if from the beginning the private twosome seemed to have understood that their most special creation was meant to be shared with the world.
At just two days old, Blue Ivy had already made her first recording, Jay using her adorable newborn coos and cries on his "Glory" track, making B.I.C., as she was credited, the youngest to ever appear on Billboard's charts.
But despite that splashy debut, and her plainly obvious destiny, Jay has said his goals for her were quite humble. As he shared in an enlightening and incredibly thorough 2017 interview with T, The New York Times Style Magazine, his chief task as a father was to instill an empathy for others and the ability to understand just how fortunate they were. Because it's not as if he could—or would even want to—recreate his childhood, where he had to scrap for every opportunity growing up amid the drugs and violence in Brooklyn's famed Marcy Projects.
"There's a delicate balance to that, right? Because you have to educate your children on the world as it exists today and how it got to that space, but my child doesn't need the same tools that I needed growing up. I needed certain tools to survive my area that my child doesn't need. They're growing up in a different environment," he shared in a sit-down mere months after he and his wife welcomed now-3-year-old twins Rumi Carter and Sir Carter.
"But also they have to know their history," he continued. "Have a sense of what it took to get to this place. And have compassion for others. The most important thing I think out of all this is to teach compassion and to identify with everyone's struggle and to know these people made these sacrifices for us to be where we are and to push that forward—for us."
He had the means to literally give them the world, Jay acknowledged, but he was more interested in making sure they absorbed certain life lessons. "Treat people as they are, no matter who they are, no matter where they sit in the world, not to, like, be super nice to someone at a high position or mean to someone who they've deemed to be below them," he explained. "I can't buy you love, I can't show it to you. I can show you affection and I can, you know, I can express love, but I can't put it in your hand. I can't put compassion in your hand. I can't show you that. So the most beautiful things are things that are invisible. That's where the important things lie."
But once you've taken the necessary steps to ensure you're not raising an entirely self-involved monster, a girl can still appreciate life's big lessons and a $10,950 Mischka Aoki red carpet dress, too.
And when you've worked as hard as the native of Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood and his Houston-bred wife to build an empire, well, you should be allowed to enjoy it. So at age 9, Blue Ivy—along with her little brother and sister—has already checked off more dream destinations than most adults, having tagged along on trips to Hawaii, the Grand Canyon, Paris and, really, all across Europe as she took part in the Carter's 2018 On The Run II tour.
She's also joined her parents in the recording studio, at movie premieres, on red carpets, courtside at NBA games and whatever other decidedly upscale event the music royalty deign to attend. Because at this point, Blue is not an antsy kid who needs to be reminded to sit still or keep her cool around bold-faced names. (That is, of course, unless LeBron James is involved.)
She is the bold-faced name, cooly attempting to outbid Tyler Perry for a $20,000 acrylic painting at Grandma Tina Knowles' 2018 Wearable Art Gala and reminding Mom and Dad to shut it down when they got too excited cheering for Camila Cabello's call for immigration reform at the 2018 Grammys.
Because while Blue is a lot of things, a person with no chill is not one of them.
"She is very sassy, high energy and knows what she wants," a source told People of the elementary schooler. "Especially after the twins were born, Beyoncé made sure that Blue was able to embrace her new role as a big sister. She also lets her go to video shoots, award shows and music recording. They have a very special bond!"
At the root, beyond the whole mother-daughter connection, is a love of entertaining. "Of course both Beyoncé and Blue love music," continued the source. "Blue loves singing, dancing and performing. She is a natural."
The world has seen as much, with her rendition of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," a piece of poetry oft referred to as the Black national anthem, on Mom's 2019 Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé documentary standing out as particularly noteworthy.
At Blue's age, Beyoncé was showing off her hours of basement rehearsals by winning countless talent shows and Jay was nursing the love of words that would help him become a lyrical genius. The 9-year-old already possesses both talents, as evidenced by her performances and the freestyle rap Dad included on his 4:44 album, plus the sort of limitless potential and opportunities granted few budding young artists.
Because having reached nearly every achievement a person can capture, Beyoncé has begun to focus on her legacy, the roads she can create for her kids and others like them. "Success looks different to me now. Having miscarriages taught me that I had to mother myself before I could be a mother to someone else," she mused to Elle. "Then I had Blue, and the quest for my purpose became so much deeper. I died and was reborn in my relationship, and the quest for self became even stronger."
So she approaches each new challenge with this in mind, turning her headlining gig at 2018's Coachella, for example, into an unabashed celebration of African American culture.
"As a black woman, I used to feel like the world wanted me to stay in my little box and black women often feel underestimated. I wanted us to be proud of not only the show, but the process, proud of the struggle, thankful for the beauty that comes with a painful history and rejoice in the pain, rejoice in the imperfections and the wrongs that are so damn right," she explained in her Netflix doc. "I wanted everyone to feel grateful for their curves, their sass, their honesty, thankful for their freedom. It was no rules and we were able to create a free, safe space where none of us were marginalized."
In the end, she shared, she felt as if she'd "made something that made my daughter proud, made my mother proud, my father proud, all of the people that are my brothers and sisters around the world." And beyond that, she's helped create a world where Blue, still years away from being able to drive a car, can confidently proclaim, she's "Never seen a ceiling in my whole life."
Because, really, where's the lie?
(Originally published Jan. 7, 2020 at 3 a.m. PT)