I can see them, the subtle changes happening in my daughter. I see them every day.
In how she lingers in front of the mirror to arrange a strand of hair.
In how she wants to apply face cream and wear tinted lip balm, “just like mom.”
In her careful selection of clothes. No, not the glittery pink one. The cool blue one.
In how she talks about a boy from school named Milo and how her “friend” thinks he’s cute.
In how she flattens her shirt, stares down at her chest and asks me if she needs a bra yet. Not yet, sweetheart, but soon.
I see those changes every day, and the realization of how quick the sands of time slip by is scary.
Yes, puberty is knocking at my daughter’s door, and it means I will soon have The Talk with her. But I am postponing that dreadful day for just a bit longer.
I fear the moment I dispense the knowledge to her about the birds and the bees and the changes that will occur in her body, in that very instant, that door will swing wide open and out will go running my little girl. Wind catching her brown locks and making waves in her dress, she’ll run past me with that infectious, uninhibited little girl laughter, and she’ll disappear without turning around, without waving goodbye. My jubilant, carefree, funny, little girl who loves making silly faces will be replaced by an older, more mature and, I suspect, more serious girl, waiting in the entrance to come in.
The moment that door opens into her world, the thin, delicate, soft veil of innocence and blissful childhood ignorance that fell on her the moment she was born will rip and be replaced by the thick, heavy, harsh blanket of responsibility, self-consciousness, and maturity that comes with growing up. That comes with being a girl dealing with puberty.
So for a little while longer, I will let her bask in the wonder and magic of what’s left of her childhood.
I will let Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy still be real. I will watch in pure delight how she scurries to put on mismatched socks, a zebra-striped short with her pink pajama top and gather her unbrushed hair in a lopsided ponytail at the promise of a warm summer morning in the park. Because getting there early and grabbing the good swings is so much more important than what she’s wearing or how she looks.
Because soon, all too soon, what she’s wearing and how she looks will be the first things on her mind. Because Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy will be demoted to childhood fantasies. Because her lopsided ponytails and her laissez-faire attitude will give their place to a pristine hairdo and an all too important self-involved attitude.
If I am lucky, in the years to come, I might get a few glimpses of my little girl.
I will see her when this older girl waiting to take her place will give in to her little sister’s whim and, forgetting her age, she will get down on all fours to play with her on the floor a game devoid of any sense or reason.
When this serious girl remembers that her parents are funny people and she will laugh at one of our jokes unabashedly snorting in the process.
When this unenchanted girl wakes up one Christmas morning and soaks up on her little sister’s marvelous excitement at opening presents.
In those fleeting moments, she will reappear.
But for now, I will enjoy my little girl, hug her and kiss her and play with her. While I still can. While she still lets me. While she’s still little.
Before she vanishes out that door.
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