As I get older I’m in no hurry to rush from birthday to birthday. However, as a kid I do not recall a time when I didn’t want to be a grown up. Well, maybe not a grown up, but at least a teenager. I was the youngest, six years behind my closest sibling. They got to do all of the fun stuff or at least I thought so. They got to hang out with their friends without mom or dad being nearby. They got to do after school activities instead of coming straight home. They got to go to parties after dark. On Saturday nights I was the only one at home watching The Lawrence Welk Show (I loved Bobby and Cissy) and Hee Haw! with my mom.
My older kids were the same way. All the way through high school they wanted to get out on their own – away from our relentless glare, unreasonable expectations and you know, general parenting. Of course we were expected to pay for college and they didn’t want to pay their own bills, but that’s a minor technicality. I kept reminding them to slow down and enjoy their current situation because time has a way of speeding up as we get older. That and the fact that they will have to pay their own bills. They get that now – at least the pay their own bills part. This causes me to giggle.
I have been anticipating the same eagerness to grow up from my younger two. However, it appears that this is not the case. Recently my girls and I have started talking and reading about puberty and what to expect in the next few years. It’s really an effort to give them the information ahead of time rather than to let them to be caught off guard. Then there’s the fact that Black girls tend to enter puberty around 8.5 years old which is a full year before White girls. The reason for this is unknown (although there are some theories as cited in this CNN article from 2013). Since Thing 1 turned 8 this year, I figured it’s time to start the discussion. Believe me, I’m in no hurry. She’s curious, but apprehensive. It appears that she enjoys being a little girl almost as much as I enjoy her being a little girl.
The truth is that my 8-year-old still enjoys playing with dolls, still watches Sophia the First and Doc McStuffins and has absolutely no real interest in boys (“Mom, they’re kind of annoying and they smell like feet”). This is not the case with a lot of her fellow 3rd grade friends. She gets teased about her fondness for “baby” things and it bothers her, but not enough to give them up. This is a good thing because I like the fact that she is not willing to give up the things that she really enjoys just to please others. I give her words to help her express herself and let kids know when they have over stepped their boundairies. She’s not quite there yet, but she’s gaining confidence.
One month from today I will be 48 – years – old. I’m very comfortable with my age. In fact, I’m much more comfortable at 47 than I was at 37. I used to say things like “By the time I’m 45….” or “Maybe for my 4oth birthday…” , but I don’t do that any more because I know that the distance between January 1st and December 31st keeps getting shorter. These days are meant to be embraced and lived just the way they are. Not tomorrow, not next year, but right now. So, I stopped hurrying from birthday to birthday and decided to bask in each and every day.
Thing 1 has already figured that out. The other night, I went to kiss her good night and tuck her in and she whispered to me “Momma, I don’t want to grow up. ”
“Me neither, ” I responded.
She laughed and said “Too late for you. You’re already grown up.”
Sitting down next to her I whispered “Why don’t you just enjoy being 8?”
“Then, when I turn 9, I can enjoy being 9!”
“Sounds like a plan because being a grown-up doesn’t seem like very much fun. I like my life just the way it is now.”
I wish I would have come to that a long time ago because I hurried through so many years. I guess it’s true what they say, better late than never. Now, I’m in no hurry.