Last night, I put my daughter to bed and reminded her that it was her final night to be a five year-old. Of course, she already knew this, as her birthday countdown has been going on seemingly for months (that’s genetics at work, right there). She was, like most nights, engaged in a long internal debate about what outfit to choose for the next morning. As she considered the extensive pros and cons of one pink dress versus another for her big day, I asked her what she thought would be exciting about turning six.
“I’m not really sure. But at least I already know what I want to be when I grow up.”
“Oh really? Tell me.”
“I don’t want to work at Trader Joe’s anymore, like I did when I was five. But I still want to work in a bakery and a flower shop during the day and also watch my kids. I will visit my older brother at his job at the toy store on Fridays. And at night I will be a rock star.”
Welcome to the world of my newly-minted six year-old. It is a place of firm decisions, fantasy, curiosity and in-the-know. I would love to live there myself, but I’m not nearly cool enough.
This child knows what she wants. She watches the world around her and takes in everything. There is no speaking in adult code around her. There is no “maybe she didn’t hear us” or “she won’t remember that.” Oh, no. She hears you (often from a sneaky perch at an unlikely distance), she gets it and then it is duly noted – filed away for her future use when you least expect it. Remember that time you made a wrong turn to get to gymnastics in 2013? No? Well, she does. It should come as no surprise that we sometimes call her Eyewitness News.
I wrote last year on her birthday about my concern that the innocence of her beloved princess phase might end soon. No worries – it turns out that Disney marketing runs deep and devotion dies hard, as she has insisted on sitting beside me to browse Pinterest all week for yet another unrealized interpretation of the princess birthday cake. That’s OK. I will take the princesses and fairy dust over whatever comes next, because it can’t possibly be as sweet and harmless. I’m happy we’ve been granted an extension for her to play in this world.
Back in reality, she is my resident sous chef and Cooking Channel viewing companion. She has also positioned herself as a second mother to her two year-old brother. In fact, she pretty much thinks she plays the same role to her eight year-old brother. She is the rule enforcer, the resident cop and my extra set of eyes. Basically, she wants to be in the middle of everything.
This year she went to full-day Kindergarten and was also thrilled to have her own after-school activities that didn’t involve her brothers. It seemed to me that she slowly realized she is her own person and not just a sibling to two boys. But that didn’t stop her from assuming every female role in her older brother’s Star Wars games.
I don’t mean to make it sound like she’s all rainbows and sugar and no sass. There are battles of will multiple times each day – over shades of pink and purple and hair clips and which carbohydrate she would like to consume for her next meal. The same decisiveness that makes her a true go-getter also means there is a take-no-prisoners approach to daily Q&A sessions on everything from my parking job to how babies come out.
She is the only daughter I will ever have, and sometimes that reality really tugs at my heart, mostly because I know how much she would love a sister (but, no, sorry – see “ships that have sailed”). I think of how close I am with my mom and how that mother/daughter bond is so special and so complicated and tumultuous at times. It’s delicate and different to parent a daughter and sometimes all I can hope for is that I don’t completely screw it up.
Like every mother, I want her to have every shred of confidence in the world that she needs. I want her never to be the mean girl. I want her to not shy away from sports like I did. I want her to know that boys come and go, but good girlfriends are forever. I want her not to inherit my hang-ups. I want her to know that maybe you do need math in the real world, after all. And I want her to know that I will be here for the million other lessons she will need in her lifetime.
I want her to know that she can do anything. Although I suspect she is already on her way.
Happy 6th birthday to my sweet, sweet girl.