My big girl turned 8 on Tuesday.

(That number? Means I've been blogging for 7 years. Can that be right? Whoa.)

She is big and she is little. She makes statements that are wise beyond her years and she throws tantrums, complete with stomping feet and irrational demands. She rides rollerblades with abandon and got a real skateboard for her birthday and yet requires a hug and a kiss at the bus stop every morning.

She's been on this earth for 8 years and yet I still falter when I sign my name on cards to her: Mom.


In some ways, she will always be this little baby in my arms.
I still worry about her eating enough protein or choking on baby carrots and also whether her friends are bad influences who lure her into misbehavior or will give her false information or make her doubt her own worth.

We are entering a frightening new world, one where peers rule, secrets are better hidden, parents are eye-roll inducing annoyances rather than all-knowing favorites. 

I used to know everything that ever happened to her. Now I'm left with her skewed and limited reporting as her weekdays are mostly spent away from me. For years she would follow me from room to room, refusing to be "left alone" in any room of our not-very-large house. Now when she gets home, she walks upstairs, goes into her room and shuts the door. She writes in her diary and locks it with a key.

I know where the key is, of course.

How much longer will I know where the key is?

(No, I haven't read it without her permission. She will often bring it to us and have us read it when she's too upset - or embarrassed - to speak her truth.)

She still asks me to tell her made-up bedtime stories about Princess Rose and her brother Thistle who get into misadventures with their dragon buddy Snapdragon. We share this love of stories and reading but she reads so fast these days, I can't pre-screen her books for her any more.  I'm always looking for longer and more complex chapter books that are still appropriate for a 7 year old. emotionally immature 8 year old.

"Mom? Why are all these books you're getting for me written so long ago?"

"Because the only books you can emotionally handle were written in the 1950s or before!"

"Because there's great literature from that era!'

Who taught her to pose like this?! WHO SAID SHE COULD TURN EIGHT? (I blame her peers.)

Today she tucked her Winnie the Pooh book into her back pack and asked worriedly about the Holocaust and walked to the bus stop with her hand in my mine.

I gave her a hug and a kiss goodbye, never knowing when it will be the last one she wants, the last one she'll allow.

"I LOVE YOU MOM," she yelled as she got onto the bus, not looking back, never looking back.


Kara Keenan said...

Oh, Happy Birthday! I have three daughters, my older two are 11 and 9, the youngest is turning 7. It's interesting, to say the least.

If you're looking for book suggestions, try The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. They are contemporary, but "feel" like they were written in the 1950's. My 9 year old loves them.

For actual older books, I loved the Betsy books by Carolyn Haywood.

Good luck!

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Kara- We LOVED the Penderwicks! So perfect! And I don't know the Betsy books but I've added them (ALL!) to the library list! Thanks!!!

Michelle said...

You are both so, so lovely.

Melanie said...

Happy Birthday!!! 8 is great (and so is every other age quite frankly) but they always feel newly born and far too old all at the same time:)

Kathi said...

Just catching up on your posts - I can't believe she is 8. I still remember sitting at the Claremont when you told me you were pregnant. That can't have been 8 years ago! And I feel your pain as the pull away and spend more time on their own and with friends. Sigh. Happy belated birthday Z!

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