31.12.08

5 years old



My Girl, you are 5 now. Just like sun after the long darkness of a winter night you are like the hope filled dawn, pale and bright and filled with the promise of life. (Of course, being a solstice baby that simile is perhaps a bit too obvious, though no less apt.) You are shockingly beautiful when I am aware enough to really look at you. I love to watch your face when you are talking animatedly about something you find exciting or amusing, you call to mind every cliche I ever heard about a girl who is glowingly beautiful, alight, full of life.

I sometimes wonder if I am the right mother for you. You see, the Boy, I get. He is me all over again and most of the time I know exactly how to parent him. You on the other hand, you are often a mystery. I don't understand you like I do him. You are surprising, and frustrating, and rewarding by turns.

You are so strong and brave when it comes to physical hurts. You don't cry when you get a scrape or a fall. You hold still for a sliver extraction, even if it hurts a bit. When it comes to physical pain you have a very tough skin. But let something hurt your feelings and you crumple, wounded to the core. Let someone stop you in the middle of expressing the latest thing that passed through your head and remind you were supposed to put your toys away and you feel slighted and ignored.

I guess you are just normal for 5 year old Girl.

You flit from project to project, quickly finishing one or tiring of it and asking me for something else to do. You haven't yet got the concentration of an older child, but you really want to master the skills that older children have. But the things you understand and can do independently you do so quickly and efficiently that I'm quite certain the rest will all fall into place for you soon enough.

It's hard to remember you are such a little Girl. You are so articulate and capable of expressing yourself with such mature phrases and vocabulary that I often forget that you are just barely five, you are still a baby in many ways. This in betweenness wasn't something I expected so soon, but there it is.

Is there any way to express how grateful I am that you still need me? Even in the middle of the night when you need my help after a bad dream and Little is awake too and I am trying to settle her again so I can get to you and I find it completely frustrating that I can't just jump to your side without dire consequences to all of our sleep schedules if Little stays awake wailing I am grateful that you need me. I find it exhausting sometimes, this neediness of yours, but I am grateful for it. I feel like it gives me more opportunities to mend my clumsy mistakes from the times when I misunderstand you.

Like the time when you had a few little friends over and you sidled up to me and asked me if you could get out some really special things for them to eat, or play with, I don't remember which. And I, in the middle of something else, but also concerned that you were trying to buy your friend's affection with these things, or that they were manipulating you, vetoed the idea quite soundly and abruptly. You were heart broken, crushed. I couldn't figure it out because it went way beyond the standard reaction when you don't get your own way. I wondered about it for a long time, and watched you, and finally, a longtime later, I realized something about you I hadn't known before. What you had been trying to do was show your friends you cared about them by sharing our special things with them. You were modeling yourself after me and what you see us do when we have guests and trying to do the same for your friends. You are generous, which I knew, but also you have the desire to do kind things for others and to make people feel special. And then I felt like a total heel for stopping you.

Your grandfather used to word intuitive to describe you tonight and it is just about the perfect word. You feel things, you put group things together and make associations, not based on any sort of linear process, but more by instinct. And you are good at it. Your favorite school activities are the sorting and grouping kind, if I let you, you would just go through the books and do all of those. You also pick up on all kinds of social nuances in ways that your brother probably never will. You feel your way through life and that's what makes you such a mystery to those of us in your family who tend to think their way through more than feel it.

You just got barbie dolls this month. Add that to the list of things I said would never enter my house and now watch me eat my words. When we were at our friends house during our fundraiser you were in the care of their youngest girl, who had a few leftover Barbie's lying about. Which you immediately glommed onto and started playing with. So she, ignorant of my no Barbie policy, said you could keep them. What was I to do when you came to me, bursting with excitement, to tell me about your new treasure? Yeah, I didn't know either, so the Barbie's came home and you have been dressing them and undressing them and putting different colored shoes on each foot. I know that it's a part of you imagining yourself grownup, wanting to be a woman.

But I don't want you to be a woman, or want to be, for a very long time. It hurts to think of how quickly you will grow up and how little girlhood you have left already. I saw you trying on my one pair of high heeled shoes the other day, when you didn't think I was looking. I know about the lip gloss you sneak out of my bag and put on to admire yourself in the mirror. You got some scented body spray as a gift and you feel so grown up and special spraying it on your wrists. I don't remember being such a girlie girl. Though it's possible I was. And honestly, I'm intimidated by the way I see you modeling your womanhood after me. I want you to wait a few more years until I have my act together before you start imitating me. That's a classic mother's lament isn't it?

It scares me because I remember how high a pedestal I once had your Oma on, and I remember how hard the fall, how crushing, and how harsh my judgments of her were after for a time. I know that I am not perfect, and some day you will find out the same thing. Will it crush you, as it did me to discover your mother's imperfections? I want you to like me when we are both adults. Is that possible? See, it's my job to help you to mature and not be foolish and I sometimes worry that we won't survive the process.

I suppose this is a classic mother daughter conundrum, but you are the first daughter I have ever had, so I am stumbling my way through it for the first time. In the process I am learning how important it is for me to see you as you are, how different from me you are and how careful I need to be to not assume anything about you.

But there are a few things I know for sure, you are sweet, kind, lovely, warm, loving, generous, intelligent, and brave. And these are things about you that I hope will never change.

I love you with all my heart.

Mama

And now, instead of trying to get the better pictures of you to download so I can post them, I'm going to leave these up and go read to you because I promised you I would.

2 comments:

  1. Five is a lovely age--sunny and warm. My own golden-haired girl is 11 now and continues to be a wonder and source of joy.

    My son is 13.

    When our children are babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, we frequently receive the message to "cherish them while they are little," with the unspoken assumption being that somehow they will be less lovable, interesting, or connected to you when they are older.

    My message to all parents is to cherish who they are and where they are and don't fear the future.

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  2. Happy Birth Day to both her and you. She is beautiful.

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