Hovering on the Brink of Childhood

As I watch my 11 year old daughter laugh and play with her siblings, I am amused and joyful at her childishness. She is still so innocent. So sweet and happy, as yet untouched by any kind of drama that so often accompanies the move into teenhood. But as I watch, it is perfectly clear, that these days are numbered. She is slowly, but surely, developping into a teen, and though the thought gives me a twinge, I am not as terrified at the impending change as I thought I would be. Thinking back, it was absolutely horrifying to think of my sweet little girls ever turning into women. In my head they would stay babies forever and would never have to go through puberty or have to put up with stupid boys. My mother tried to tell me that this outlook would change, but I just couldn`t imagine it, nor did I want to. But as I continue to watch my daughter, I notice a certain grace in the tilt of her head, as if she is trying to see something, without being seen. She is no longer openly curious as she once was, but covertly watches what interests her. Her once gangly legs have grown even more and though they have gotten longer, for some reason they have lost the gangliness. Her hair, long and curly, no longer in pigtails as in her younger days, hangs over her shoulders in a myriad of waves and color and shines in a way that only a twelve year olds untouched hair can shine. I feel a surge of pride at the beauty she is turning out to be. I tell her all the time...I hope she will believe it.

As I continue to watch her, I allow my mind to wander. I imagine the day that my daughter will bring home a boy. I don`t cringe as I used to. I pause to ponder how I really feel. I am surprised to feel a rush of excitement and ponder further. What kind of man will love my daughter? More importantly, what kind of man will my daughter let into her heart? I am struck deeply by the knowledge that my husband and I and our relationship will have much to do with that decision. I mentally add it to the list of "must remember's" in my head.

As I return to the observation of my children, I inadvertenly giggle at the look of annoyance on my daughters face as she herds her brother back onto the grass and glances my way in exasperation. Its a good thing she wasn't daydreaming as I was and was actually watching her brother. I give myself a pat on the back, realizing that this responsible behavior in my almost 12 year old is a direct product of my parenting, however flawed it may be.

Feeling a slight shift in the temperature, I tilt my head back to have the full force of the sun on my face. Loving spending this time with my kids, I send up a prayer that adolescence will be kind to my children. That the milestones they are about to hit will not hurt as much as it usually does. That they will be mature enough to recognize danger and smart enough to avoid it. That they will not blame me for everything that is wrong in their lives and that my hair may not grey further.

As my daughter teeters on the brink of childhood, I feel I am often holding my breath and waiting for the steep fall into adolescence. Will her attitude towards me change today? Will she still tolerate my arms around her in front of her peers? When will that first boy-band poster go up in her room? When will she ask for a curfew? What day will she try to leave the house with makeup on? When will she ask for a razor?

I count myself lucky that she is still living in a childs world, knowing that many girls at her age have already fallen hard into pre-adolescence, and I let myself take a deep breath. As much as I am looking forward to watching my daughters bloom into women, I am equally grateful for any extra days of childhood that I can have and will cherish these numbered moments.

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