Tonight I was delivered a gut punch. In the grand scheme of things it really isn't that big a deal, or even a bad thing really, but in the moment it felt like a big fat huge gut punch. This punch came in the form of my 11 year old daughter writing a letter to my 8 year old (who had lost her tooth)...as the tooth fairy! For real!
In all honesty, I knew this was coming one day soon. If I recall she did give me kind of a knowing look at Easter. And I have definitely wondered at times if she was just playing along. But still, I wasn't quite ready for this proof in black and white that my little girl is growing up and away from an innocent and beautiful belief in all things magical at this time of year and I confess I have been dreading this day. The day she gives up her childhood beliefs. The day she stops believing in magic and enters the big grown up world where everything is so grounded in reality that it can sometimes bring a person down.
What's next? Is the big man in red on the table here? Do I have another year where the innocence of childhood makes everything about the Christmas season seem delightfully magical?
With this letter she wrote to the tooth fairy, we are only one small step away from crushes on boys, getting a driver's licence, hormones, parties and not needing her Momma quite so much anymore. Well maybe she'll still need me but she might not want me and my heart is breaking a bit right now.
I love that right now she still comes to me for hugs and chats. I love that she's not embarrassed of me yet at school drop off and that on the weekends all she wants to do is hang out with us. I love that her punishments and 'crimes' are for minor things only right now. Please let it stay that way. I love that she is not interested in make-up or boy bands. At 11 she is still more interested in toys than in boys and I am so grateful.
But it won't last forever. One day I will look in her room and all of the stuffed animals that are threatening to take over her space won't be there anymore. In their place will be posters and magazines, make-up and nail polish. Maybe a tv over in the corner. One day when I ask her what she's up to, I will no longer hear her say that she's playing with her toy horses and stable. I might get a blank stare as she removes one of her ear buds to hear again what I've asked.
I have a lump in my throat just thinking about preparing for the teen years.
One day my girl won't want to have reading parties with me on the porch or cuddle up together for Friday night movies. One day she'll stop asking if she can have a sleep over on the floor in our room and she'll pull her hand away when her Dad reaches for it as they shop together in the local hardware store. One day she is going to get annoyed when I ask her to tell me 3 things about her day like I do now and she might stop finding me funny. Right now I know just the things that can make her laugh. And make her feel better and make her smile. But one day, she might close that door to me. Even if it's just for a while, and when she does I can already feel my heart breaking.
I have a lump in my throat just thinking about preparing for the teen years. I know that they can be great but I also know that they can be hard. I know that we've built a solid foundation in our relationship but I know that still doesn't always ensure that they aren't going to pull away and go in another direction. Even just for a while.
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So I have to prepare myself. For one day. And by prepare myself I mean soak up every ounce of today that I have. Every day that is not "one day" is a day that I can feel close to my girl and soak up her love for me so that when the hormones start to rage and it becomes harder for her to show that love, that I will know it's still there. Beneath all of the crazy hormones and emotions. Who knows? We might sail through the teen years with nary a scratch, but it's not promised to be that way. So I will love up these years. Where she still believes in magic. When the holidays still shine with the innocence of childhood.
So let's cherish today. Let's not wish away the days and the weeks just because we are so busy with after school activities and commitments that our heads are spinning. Let's find a way to cherish our children at this young innocent age. And find a way to hang onto that unblemished magic of childhood just a little bit longer. Because soon it will be gone and then we will have to find other ways to connect. Soon they will be teenagers and we may have to run after them for a bit of their time. I'm hopeful that she will still think I'm pretty cool but I'm not holding my breath. She will be a teen soon after all. And I haven't been cool since I was her age.
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