It’s hard to believe my daughter is 6. For some reason, my clouded memories are of a pudgy 18-month-old who never used words but rather a direct pointer finger and a familiar sound to indicate what she wanted. Or a near-3-year-old who wore only pink – three shades at a time – with six necklaces, 45 hair barrettes and plastic heels toting around the remainder of her crocheted pink and white newborn blankie. A preschooler addicted to the art room and swing sets, still styling less-than-enticing outfits of three un-matching layers. And just last year, I had an apprehensive kindergartner learning the ropes of elementary school and the life lessons to accompany that huge milestone.
Six years sure happened fast. It was like birth to 6 in 60 seconds.
My daughter celebrated her sixth birthday last week, and with it came a burst of social maturity. Six wasn’t overwhelming for me when my son celebrated the same age. But with my daughter, age 6 marks a definitive end to her toddler era and a fast emersion into the thrills and spills of “tweendom.”
In just a few days I have noticed the differences in many things. When the ice-cream (wo)man comes to the park, Ashley chooses a Bratz pop over a Dora one; is wearing side ponies over pig tails and has taken to liberally applying lip gloss before we head out of the house. She rides a big girl two-wheeler bike and is slowly overcoming her long-standing fear of dogs. Her reasoning skills have increased; simultaneously her whining has amplified. She is no longer captivated by my stories with a curious "really?" at the end, instead I receive a " seriously?" with a twinge of doubt and an extended hip and tilt of the head.
It’s a whole new being at 6.
For her birthday, Ashley asked for a CD player and like a fool, I bought her a pink one. I thought I was being very appropriate by not purchasing an iTouch with a Bose docking station for my 6-year-old. So I bought her a small hot pink boom box, one she could thrown in CDs and switch to Radio Disney. She’d have some control of the cool beats that blare from her room while she plays with her Barbies or Polly Pockets. I even showed her how to use the Repeat button on the CD player.
It took just 20 minutes for me to realize this was near the top of parenting mistakes I have made to date. Well, that and buying Taylor Swift’s Fearless album to accompany it. Since last Tuesday I have heard “You belong to Me” more than 400 times a day at varying volumes.
What was I thinking?
To top it off I bought her a cut-off polka-dotted jean skirt and sequin shirt from Justice. She threw that on and found a microphone with a built in recorder and has been glued to her closet mirrors since. Yes, I have created my own pre-tween monster.
Although I am finding my 6-year-old’s transformation intensely humorous, I have to admit her growing up makes me a bit nostalgic and a bit sad. My little girl – the one who always wore her polka-dot Hello Kitty rain boots in the summer with a pink pony tail full of bangs protruding directly from the center of her forehead – is growing up.
But just last night, as I was nodding off to sleep, I was awakened by my new 6-year-old. She was not critiquing my outfit or rolling her eyes while she smacked her gum or twirled her hair.
Instead, she was having trouble sleeping. “Mommy, every time I try to fall asleep I think about starting school and I’m scared so it wakes me up.”
She popped into bed, snuggled closely to her mom and fell fast asleep. I held her close and told her not to be afraid. And I relished in the few moments where my sleeping little girl lie next to me, needing just a smidge of comfort.
There was a time when I couldn’t wait for the kids to grow up. And as much as I love watching my kids enter new stages, there’s a part of me that yearns for the past. I guess I’ll just be sure to relish the glimpses of what used to be and take comfort in knowing she’ll always be my little girl – no matter what birthday we celebrate.