Sunday, May 18, 2008

Growing Up

As I mentioned in the last post, last night I helped my oldest daughter clean her room. I will never forget last night for the rest of my life. When I am a feeble old lady sitting on my Hoveround in The Home I will look back on last night through the fog of dementia and see it as clearly as if it just happened.

I was sitting in Ab's floor, she was sitting across from me. Between us was a pile of junk we had gathered from the various hiding places throughout her room and I was determined to get rid of some junk. In that pile, among other things, was a flowered notebook holder (Trapper Keeper, to those of who are completely old school), a picture frame with a picture of one of my old babysitting babies in it, a spiral notebook or seven, some friendship bracelets she and her friends had made at school, more than a few notes from her BFFs and her "Cubby" bear.

Cubby is a Ty Beanie Baby from way back when, but Cubby was never put in a display case and his tag was ripped off immediately upon entering the clutches of his captor, my daughter. Cubby went to Lab School with her every day her first year because she was a stay-at-home kid and had never been away from her momma. She was quiet, shy and incredibly uneasy in situations where she knew no one. Even though we were discouraged from sending toys and blankets from home, she needed her Cubby bear in those first few moments of the morning and her teacher allowed it. More than once I left her with Miss Charlene, clutching Cubby and looking like she was going to completely implode at any second. It was those days I promptly left the school, busted into tears in the parking lot and wished I had my own Cubby bear.

I picked up Cubby and looked at him. He was a shiny silvery blueish purple when he was new, but now he's more of a gray. He's kind of nappy looking, actually. I sat him back down and didn't say anything. Abby immediately picked him up and said, "We're not getting rid of him. Period." Okay, I wasn't going to argue. I told her to put him up on a shelf with her disco ball and plasma light. As she came back over to me, she folded her long legs as she sat down and pulled out the big purple laundry basket that held her dolls. She didn't make eye contact with me when she said, "I want to get rid of my dolls."

I was proud of me because, first off, I didn't immediately burst into tears. I just took a deep breath and said, "Oookay..." She picked up one of her Cabbage Patch twins, Emaleigh, and smoothed her hair down. She looked at me and said, "Well, I mean, I don't like, play with them anymore..." Then quietly she added, "They're kind the way...." She looked at me and I caught a glimpse of my four year old clinging to Cubby in the entryway of the Lab School, but it was gone in an instant as my 11-year old brushed her flat-ironed hair back from her eyes and set Emaleigh aside. I picked up Emaleigh's twin, Hayleigh, and blinked back a few tears. I said, "Well, I hate for these to just go to the flea market or the garage sale. Uhm....would you be okay with maybe setting them on a shelf or something?" I gave her the permission she needed to hang on a little longer and she nodded her head and smiled. The Cabbage Patch twins, the one named Abbey and another one that Cousin Courtney gave her are now sitting on a shelf in her bookcase, right underneath the framed photos of Zack Efron and Keith Anderson.

She is growing up. I can't stop her. This week she finishes elementary school and will officially become a Middle Schooler. She's taller than I am, has the beginnings of a figure that I only dreamed about when I was a teen (Heck, I only dream of it now) and exudes a confidence that I cannot believe comes from that little girl in pigtails who clung so desperately to a purple stuffed bear a mere seven year ago. She has had the same boyfriend for two years now, but adamantly insists that she's nowhere near ready to kiss or even hold hands. (Thank you, Jesus!) She hates math and has no desire to be in the band, but she is counting down the days until she can be on the Drama/Speech team, though. (Again, thank you, Jesus!) She doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up, but I tell her it's okay to not know when you're 35.

I know that every parent reaches the point where they come face to face with the reality that their child is no longer a baby and I know that what I'm experiencing is nothing new to the world -- however, it's new to me. I find it utterly fascinating, yet at the same time incredibly terrifying. Our relationship is changing as well. One minute she's lying curled up next to me, holding my hand and the next minute she is crying and stomping around and declaring me to be the most unfair person to ever breathe. I'm trying my best to give her boundaries but at the same time allow her some freedoms. I know all too well what happens when parents are too strict - they turn out to be me. Not that I turned out all that bad, but if I can spare her some pain I'll sure try.

We went through the basket of baby dolls and clothes. Some of the doll clothes were passed down to her little sister, but most of them are going into the garage sale. By that time she was getting tired of me going through her stuff, she wanted to watch TV and send a text message or 40 from my cell phone to her BFF's. I told her I wanted to at least get things clean up to her desk, which we can tackle another day, and that's when she threw a flipflop at me. What ensued was what will forever go down in history as The Great Flipflop Fight of 2008. Sam and Kady came running when they heard the screaming, squealing and giggling coming from their sister's room. There I was, red-faced from spending a little too long in the tanning bed that morning, there she was, red-faced because I was totally kicking her butt by beating her near-senseless with a pink flipflop. Eventually she cried uncle and I held my flipflop in the air in a very Rocky moment. She threw her arms around my neck and whispered, "Thanks, Mom. I love you." Then she grabbed my cell phone and raced to the other end of the house.

I glanced over at Emaleigh and Hayleigh, the twins from the Cabbage Patch, as I turned out her bedroom light. I hope they're content to just watch things from the sidelines for awhile.


Marshamarshamarsha said...

Beautiful story.

Anonymous said...

Wow...that made me tear up. Enjoy this special time, it doesn't last nearly long enough.

Jax said...

OMG how did you not baul? Today was Hoss' last day of school...he is going to be a 3rd's killing me sister....just killing me!

Red Lotus Mama said...

My daughter is turning 3 in a couple of months, but in a blink of an eye she will a tween and one morning I will wake up to the morning I take her off to college (I hope). I treasure every moment with her, but am so sad at how quickly the days go by. This post was very touching ... it spoke to my inner fears and feelings about the day when I have to sit down with Little 'Ny and say good-bye to some of her childhood. Thanks for this post!

Cazzie!!! said...

My eldest has a mate over here tonight, they are making me laugh even at this minute as we sit up and watch a movie. To hear them talk makes me laugh, I am sitting back and just listening, sometimes they even include me :) Well, things are changing, as long as he sits as close as he can to me without actually hugging me, coz it is " not cool to hug", then I think I will be okay :)

Anonymous said...

That is the hardest part of parenting for me so far. With my daughter she got to a point and cleaned out her room and her Mom and I refused to let her toss out old friends. She still sleeps with her teddy bear, and she is 16 years old.

My son on the other hand is the collector. He has toys small and huge and they are stacked half way to the ceiling in his room. It is torture for us to enter and see little action figures and giant plastic swords and all kinds of nerf weaponry. But we agreed to not force the issue. He will only be a tweener for so long and then the joy of being a little kid will be behind him forever.

Plus, I play with that stuff too!

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