She’s Eight

When my daughter presented me with a wish list for her birthday, my first reaction was to be taken aback. Way aback.

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Some things jumped right out at me.

  • A pool — with hot tub. What?
  • A fairy godmother. Um.
  • Not being GF (gluten free). Ouch, my heart.
  • A cat. I don’t even understand this — it has never once come up before. Plus, we are dog people.
  • A SISTER. Oh, sweetie. We need to talk.

My mouth hung open a little and I wondered if I had raised a completely entitled child who expected wildly unrealistic things. I didn’t react outwardly at first, and then I read it again, slowly.

Nestled in between these crazy asks were nail polish, fidgets and a new Ariel night gown (hers has been worn to pieces). Now we’re talking. OH, and there it was — an iPod Touch. It was then that I understood the strategy at play. She has been asking for an iPod Touch for a year and my answer has been in the firmly negative camp. I know plenty of girls her age have one (believe me, their names are presented to me, in list form, accompanied by the colors of their respective devices, on an almost-daily basis; if the child could present it to me in PowerPoint, she would). And I’m not judging. But for us, it’s a no, for now.

And so she went and lodged this request in between a bunch of insane items to normalize it. Or maybe I was giving her too much credit — so I asked her, “Um, where would we put a pool — with hot tub — in our small yard, exactly?”

Her toothless grin expanded across her face, as if pleased with herself, as she shrugged and said, “What about the iPod Touch? It fits anywhere.”

Welcome to The Year of Eight.

There are times when you become distinctly aware that your child has grown significantly — and a look about them changes in some way or another. We’re currently in one of those phases when my husband and I see this in our daughter, with her limbs dangling longer in her bed seemingly every night. I can start to see how the more grown-up version of her might look and sound, and it’s really something. By something, I mean amazing and perhaps slightly terrifying because I didn’t sign up for things to move this quickly.

She has had quite a year, growing into her own friendships and hobbies, with a more solid sense of self-awareness.

A constant cartwheeler. Rainbow chaser. Itinerary planner. Social butterfly.

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Dancer. Athlete. Pretender. Friend. Big sister. Little sister.

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There is so much of her that is not me. She is fearless, confident, game for anything. This was always one of my biggest wishes for her — to be strong and adventurous where I am not. I see checklists of caution and she sees green lights and fun.

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She sees everyone as a friend and enjoys being an extroverted social butterfly. I think maybe I was once like this, but it is surely a far cry from my far more introverted adult self. Who can come over? When? What can we plan? What songs will we sing? What dances will we create? How can we costume our act?  It is like living in a community theater with a rotating cast of guest artists.

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(Tactic #889393736 in asking for an iPod touch)

 

But, she cannot escape all of my DNA, for better or worse.

I’ll take responsibility for her propensity to be impatient and restless. That’s on me. A rule follower? Guilty (which balances out her adventurous trait nicely). Relentlessly willful? Ahem. But, I also passed on a little something to see the angle in situations, to read people quickly and accurately. It has always served me well, and I know it will do the same for her.

And, come on — let’s get to the really important stuff, like my Mint Chip Forever gene, as well as the ability to extend a birthday as long as possible. Because big life lessons can come in many forms.

I’ve written in the past about how having only one daughter is amazing and hard and fraught with all kinds of feelings. I get just this one chance to be the mom of a girl and do it right, as much as I can. At eight years old, my daughter is halfway to sixteen, even though most days that math doesn’t seem fair. Her will and drive are going to keep me on my toes forever, as I try to balance how much to hold on versus when to let her fly. I can already tell you that she will go on to teach me way more in my life than I could have imagined.

I’ve mentioned before that these birthday posts I write about my kids are for me. Most of the other pieces I write and share are more for everyone else, but these — loaded with photos and details that maybe nobody wants to endure about a kid they don’t know — are for my collective emotional time capsule, to indelibly capture the mementos of their childhood in my mind.

And there are so many. I wish I could remember them all before they change again.

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Happy birthday to my sweet, sweet girl.

(Oh, and nice try, but still no iPod Touch. Or pool. Or sister.)

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