Our little girl Lauren recently wrapped up her kindergarten year with a bang: she lost one of her front teeth and moved into her new “big girl” room all in the same week that school ended. What a year we’ve had together. I’ve been reflecting on her at age seven so much lately, because if everything goes as planned, we will welcome her little brother into our family later this summer. Things are about to change in our household very soon, and it will never be just the three of us again, with her as the youngest, and me as the mother of only one small child.
Mostly I think that age seven has been a transitional phase for her and I, because little by little, she’s gaining her independence. We’ve moved out of the baby and toddler years, but we’re not to the preteen years yet. I know it’s time to challenge her and push her to not be so dependent on me, especially before her little brother arrives. We help each other do this; she pushes me, and I also push her. This year she got her own alarm clock and an allowance, one dollar for every year. We made “save” and “give” jars and explained that she can spend some, but she should also try to save for something big and also put back money for a charity. Great, right? It’s hard, though. Because every Friday when she gets another $7, the requests to go to Target start up. It’s her money, and she can do with it what she wants. If I’m being honest, after a long work week, it’s a battle that most times I don’t want to fight, and she ends up with another toy. A victory is when we can get her to save up two weeks for a bigger toy, but it’s tough because she really just wants to spend that money as fast as she gets it. We’ve laid some groundwork, but these are choices she will struggle with every day for the rest of her life. Nobody said growing up was easy.
I recently taught her to wash her own hair, so she’s able to do it on her own when little brother is born. Also, I’m in my third trimester and after working all day, I’m exhausted and really just want her to wash her own hair more than anything in the world. And that is a great idea, but what usually happens is she can’t get the water adjusted just right, or I have to tell her six times to put down her barbie before she will actually start, and then I have to check the back of her head to make sure the soap is actually washed out. But we’ll get there, her and I together, eventually. I’m pretty certain when we send her out of the nest, she will actually be washing her own hair, and this gives me hope.
One thing about children this age is that they definitely take pride in sharing what they know with you. (Just ask my parents about the phrase, “Do you wanna know something?” If there has been an anthem of this year, this would be it. ) You should know that usually, this happens at about 7:15 am, two minutes after her feet hit the floor, at exactly the same moment I’ve gotten out of the shower. I often heard the entire political workings of her kindergarten class, involving such topics as who wouldn’t stop tattling and whose mother hasn’t returned a call for a requested playdate, while I am attempting to put on lotion or eyeliner or any number of things, like underwear, so that I can get ready and leave for work. Most of the time, I won’t lie, It.Is.Exhausting. But then I think about how in a few years she won’t wake up and want to tell me everything or anything she’s thinking at all, and I try to stay in the moment and be thankful she wants to tell me these things. Try. I said I try to do this. I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, so points for effort are key here.
She learned to swim this year, after months of me driving her to swim lessons on Monday night. Eventually she got so sick of these lessons that she cried afterwards, and we decided she was done. We don’t care about raising an Olympic swimmer, and the probability seemed high that she could actually survive on her own without wearing floaties. And we were right. Now at the pool, I look up and she’s swimming and splashing and playing with friends she knows from school. And I think all of those long winter nights at swim lessons were worth it.
The front tooth falling out I mentioned was a major event in our family. An apple was bought for her to chomp in to, in the hope that after weeks of wiggling and worrying about it she would be released from the not-knowing of when it would come out. We all breathed a collective sigh of relief when this epic saga was over. That night, she wrote “toof” on a note for the tooth fairy, just to make sure that she wouldn’t overlook her beautiful white pearly offering. While I laid with her before she fell asleep, she looked up and felt for the baggy the tooth was in, just to make sure that the fairy hadn’t already taken the tooth. While we were laying there. She told me that the tooth fairy has to be in 121 different countries, but that it’s ok, because she has a map of each neighborhood. Are you kidding me? Forget exhaustion, forget everything else. Sometimes age seven is nothing but pure amazement, and I feel like I got sprinkled with magic fairy dust just seeing things through her eyes for one second.
I will look back on this age and remember her lanky, long legs and arms, the silly things she says and does, her crazy curly hair all over the place. The self-consciousness of later years has not hit yet, and it is a beautiful thing. She is free and wild, like an uncaged colorful bird, flying around a million miles a minute, singing and chattering. Mostly I want to remember seeing her through these eyes, the eyes of a mother with only one small child, who isn’t yet tied to a newborn, cranky and sleep-deprived and trying desperately to hold it together. She’s beautiful and amazing, and more than anything in the challenging months full of changes to come, I don’t want to forget all of the magic that she brings to my life.