Remember the Prepositions

"Can you believe you used to be IN my stomach?" I say to my oldest daughter, for the billionth time. "I can't believe you used to fit in there!" She lies sprawled on my lap, legs hanging heavy off one side and head and shoulders lolling off the other, nothing fitting anywhere anymore.

"I know! I can't even fit on your lap these days!" she marvels and cuddles her pointy elbows and knees into me in the way of 6 year olds everywhere.

I love the emerging parts of my big girl, the new ideas, the big vocabulary words and I try not to focus on the vanishing parts of this 6 year old. But I lose that battle every day.

She still yells "I LOVE YOU!" when we part, completely unselfconsciously, with nary a concern about who might hear her. She still holds my hand at most opportunities.  She still calls me "Mommy" more frequently than anything else.

But she is spreading her wings every day, while I sit anxiously by as she gets excited about one thing after another. She is a girl who wants to do it all! Right now! And expects the world to accept her with open arms.

When Z came home last week, bubbling over about something exciting that was announced in music class, I had a sinking feeling that I knew what it was. Just a few hours before, I had carefully ignored an email from the school announcing auditions for a high school production of "The Sound of Music."  They needed girls between the ages of 5-9 for auditions that Saturday and Isn't it perfect Mommy? I'M between five and nine!

"Uh huh," I muttered noncommittally. Maybe this enthusiasm will pass if I ignore it. Maybe.

Or maybe not.

She begged me to fill out the necessary form, pestered me to help her choose which song she should sing for the audition, spent hours perfecting her off key rendition of "I've Got a Golden Ticket."

Long story short: she got the part. She will be playing the part of Gretl in "The Sound of Music" and I can't believe it. Except I can.

She's anxious and sensitive and I think I know what that means because I'M anxious and sensitive. But for me that meant that every single time I had to audition for anything, I spent many miserable days sleepless and nauseated. Every single time I stepped out onto the stage I had to pretend I was just in class! No big deal!

And that was when I was a teenager and adult. I would never have auditioned for anything like this at her age.

She's not me. SHE'S. NOT. ME.

Why is this still so hard for me? She is OF me. She is FROM me. She was once IN me but SHE'S. NOT. ME.

I want to, I NEED to, get the grammar and prepositions correct.
She walked into those auditions like it might be a fun experience and she was excited to try.

Meanwhile, I sat at home because I made CG take her, nervous tummy clenched, envisioning her heart being crushed by dissappointment.

If I ever need to be reminded of this simple fact again, just repeat this to me: she said the audition was FUN.

It's tempting to think of our children as somehow better versions of ourselves. In this case, it just might be true.


Sarah said...

Oh my yes. Addy reminds me of this almost daily, how very not me she is. Physically, we are stark opposites. Our senses of humor are vastly different, our personalities quite unlike. Our preferences for things like reading and sports even are almost polar opposite.
It was almost like a joke at first, it seemed, this little girl who resembled me so very little. But now I think I was lucky, as a parent of four, to get a child so unlike me right off the bat so that I could learn as fast as possible the lesson that my child is not myself. She's not even an extension of myself. She is a WHOLE DIFFERENT PERSON. Sometimes that will fill me with joy, other times disappointment, but it is an unshakable fact.
On a lighter note, I am so excited for Z! I loved performing as a kid. I hope she has a wonderful time.

Therese said...

Mine is six too, and...well our situations have a lot in common, I think. Glad I found your blog.

momof3 said...

Congratulations! I know exactly what you mean! Everytime one of my gilrs auditioned for the Nutcracker I didn't sleep the entire night and sat watching in agony. When my oldest decided to audition for some musicals I was a nervous wreck. Again, nothing I would have ever done at their age. But I am proud that they were able to get up there and show their stuff.

Gina said...

Perfectly said.

I also have to remind myself that they are not their old selves - meaning that a characteristic they had when they were three years old (say being very reserved in large groups) may not be true at six years old. It hit me recently how much my six year old has really blossomed socially - that he is not the same person he once was.

Cortney said...

I think I held my daughter back a bit by projecting my perceived similarities. And it most definitely caused me more than a lot of anxiety. As she grows (almost 8!), I'm discovering how in so many ways she is different and surprising and not at all ME. Yay for differences...

Congrats to Z! How fun!

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