When you were one, you did not dress yourself. You did not undress yourself. You lifted an arm, a foot, waiting for your clothes to go on, to come off. Passive. Peaceful. Mostly. Except for that time you got really mad, pulled your pants off and sat against the wall. Teaching us all that you could do a bit more than we knew.
When you were three, you were fascinated with boxes, climbing in and out of them, bringing your treasures with you, making each box a house, a hat, a tunnel, a castle, a place to hide in plain sight. It was important to you that we knew where you were, even if you giggled that we couldn’t see you.
When you were four, all the girls at preschool came running up to me one day, telling me how your friend would not let you play with them and over the weeks that followed, we learned slowly that this was only one small piece of what she wouldn’t let you do. We met with your teacher and the principal. We changed your class. We spoke with you about friendship and empathy, loyalty and being your own person and you were four, mostly mad at us because you weren’t in the same class anymore with your friend.
When you were five, you started Kindergarten. While I walked you to school that first day, Mama helped your big sister move into her first college dorm.
By the time you were eight, I had started this blog … to savor the richness of random moments, to try and make sense of my life as a mom… a practice I find gets buried lately under homework management and errands and laundry and remembering what you need to bring to school.
And slowly now, I am losing track of what each box means to you and which skills and desires you acquire day by day. It’s the way of the world. It’s the way of growing girls and growing moms, I know. But still…
When did we start reading our own books side-by-side in bed each night?
What was the first fact about science or history or life you told me that I didn’t already know?
Was it just this year that you stopped needing me to wait with you on the school blacktop until first bell?
Monday, you will be eleven.
Packing your chorus shirt into your backpack because you have rehearsal – long before I ask,“Honey, do you know you need your Chorus shirt today?” — because you do know and you’ve handled it.
Still trying out every box. Still not much interested in clothes. Still proud of how mysterious you can be. Making up your own language sometimes.
Still throwing your arms around my waist every once in awhile without being asked, words tumbling out of you – real words I’m meant to understand – about something that happened in your day.
Still wanting me to know where you are, even as you giggle that you can’t be seen.
Eleven. Still my darling, growing girl.
I love you.