My daughter is seven and a half years old. We’re at a half-way point. Seven years removed from babyhood, seven years away from life as a full-blown teenager. I was remarking the other day that there’s really not a lot of excitement going on right now in our lives. I feel like being seven puts you in the no man’s land of childhood milestones. Instead of feeling blah about this stage in our lives, I can look with gratitude at what isn’t a big deal anymore and what we don’t have to deal with yet. We’re in a time of the Not Anymores and the Not Yets.
Birthday parties: In days of old (you know, like a year ago) whenever Zoey was invited to party it meant that I spent my afternoon making small talk with a bunch of parents in the same situation while our kids bounced, launched, or crafted. Not anymore. She’s old enough and confident enough for me to just drop her off at parties now. I leave her in the capable hands of her friend’s parents and I’m off for some “me time.” Sometimes that means going home to do dishes; sometimes that means pedicure for Mommy. Win.
“Firsts”-first tooth, first day of school, first haircut: While all these firsts created wonderful memories, I’m so glad to be beyond them. There is so much pressure to make these firsts the most amazing firsts that ever existed. Oh, you lost your first tooth? Well, let me write a teeny-tiny poem from the tooth fairy, sprinkle your bed with fairy dust, and give you $5. Not anymore. Here’s a buck on your nightstand (if I have cash! If not, maybe the tooth fairy hit bad weather in Chicago and will come tomorrow…) First day of kindergarten? Let’s stage a photo shoot of you in your perfect outfit holding hand-crafted, Pinterest-worthy sign and then let’s follow the bus to school and wave at you like a maniac through my tears. Not anymore. Now, I’m lucky if I grab a sharpie and some scrap paper on the way out to the bus stop. See ya later, kid. No pressure at all.
Sleep-interrupted nights: My child did not sleep through the night until kindergarten. That’s 1819 nights of hearing my name called out, pulling me from the deep weeds of sleep. Not anymore. But I think all those nights broke my brain. Now I jolt awake because I think I hear her calling for me even when she’s really dead asleep. So my sleep is still interrupted, but at least I don’t have to function and can get right back to dreamland.
Boy-craziness: So far, the only boys that aren’t icky are the ones on TV that don’t really exist. To Zoey, boys are just another kind of friends. She’s thankfully still at the age where the birthday parties are co-ed and it doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or a boy, let’s just play and be friends. She doesn’t even want you to kid around and call anyone her “boyfriend.” Not yet. #thankyoujesus. I know those days are coming, but when she turns into a giggly, awkward, boy-crazy girl? I’m just saying, I’m never going to be ready for that.
The Talk: I have pretty much dodged the “Where do babies come from?” bullet so far. Sure, she’s asked but I just throw a lot of technical medical jargon her way and the subject gets changed. The Talk, you know, birds bees and other such scary topics, is one of the conversations I most fear. I’m not sure if my folks ever had that talk with me and if I had to do it today, I would have no clue what to say or where to start. (What the hell do birds and bees have to do with it anyway?) So it’s with a huge sigh of relief that I say “Not yet” to that topic. I’m going to have to do a lot of parent research on this topic to make sure I don’t mess it or her up!
Cell phones: I dread the day when I lose my girl to the pull of technology. I mean, yes, right now she plays on my phone and uses our family Kindle, but a cell phone is totally different territory. There are FRIENDS on the other end of the cell phone. I’m not sure I want to compete with that. And setting ground rules-you know the ones that say I can totally invade her privacy at a moment’s notice-I’m not ready. Not yet.
Emotional outbursts followed by hours of depressing music while locked in her room: Ah hormones. I’m so glad that right now all emotional outbursts can be attributed to two things: 1. she’s hungry, or 2. she’s tired. Is it inevitable? Are dark, emotional days ahead? Does every teen girl go through this generation’s equivalent of playing The Cure cassettes over and over, writing depressing poetry, while crying and you just don’t know why? (Oh wait…just me?) Whatever the hormones bring, I’m glad I have a few years until they wreak havoc on the precious little girl I know now. Not yet, and hopefully not for a long time. But you can’t escape nature.
So there it is. I’m grateful for what we’ve survived so far as parents who had no clue what we were doing. And I’m excited and terrified for what’s to come. Mostly terrified. Yeah, terrified. Don’t mind me. I’ll just be over here, enjoying no man’s land. It’s nice and quiet over here.