Jessie and iCarly have long since replaced Word Girl and Dora the Explorer as the heroines of her TV rotation. My daughter has started practicing her "please don't do anything embarrassing" eye roll whenever she has friends over, as well. And she calls me "Mom" a lot more often than "Mommy" these days. Not just in public, but even when I'm leaning in to give her a good night kiss.
My youngest is ten, closing in on eleven. I knew this was coming. I am prepared, for the most part, for my "baby" girl to become just my girl. And fortunately, most of these "growing up" changes have happened gradually, feeling much more like ripples than actual waves.
But sometimes a "maturity" moment catches you by surprise. And it's like being caught in emotional high tide.
I had one of these overwhelming "wow, where did the time go?" flashes a few weeks back. My daughter had been invited to a friend's house, along with her regular gaggle of girls, to "get ready" for their final elementary school dance. To be honest, I hadn't really thought much about what "getting ready," meant for a bunch of fifth grade females. My older two, both boys, never went to the Randall-Franklin "Glow Ball" and it had been years since my daughter had expressed an interest in attending.
As it turns out, "getting ready" meant changing out of the rumpled oversized sweatshirt she had left the house wearing and changing into a black lacy number borrowed from one of her friends. My husband and I were already at the dance, working the popcorn station, when she made her entrance into the gym. Her favorite ripped jeans took on a far more fashion conscious vs. tomboy feel when paired with something clean and decidedly feminine. And her hair was brushed and French braided -- not something that happens regularly at our house. Especially the brushing part.
Now, don't get me wrong. There was nothing at all inappropriate about the transformation. The shirt was lacy, not racy, and her styled hair looked absolutely adorable. But it definitely took my husband and me by surprise. We both knew, without needing to exchange a word, that she'd entered a new phase -- the one where "what to wear" really matters. And I'm guessing worrying about "what to wear" around boys can't be too far behind.
I blamed the subtle eye rubbing I did that night on wayward popcorn salt and melted butter. But I knew the real culprits were the tears I felt welling up when my very pre-teen looking daughter and her posse hit the dance floor.
And normally I don't get sentimental during routine dusting and vacuuming. But emotions hit again just this past weekend when my standing Saturday morning "clean up your room" request turned into something much more for my daughter. Instead of simply transferring her dirty clothes from the floor to the hamper as she usually does, she spent hours on end organizing and reorganizing her room to make it look more "grown up". She bagged up all of her stuffed animals to be taken to Goodwill. Her Playmobil sets, Barbies and Groovy Girls were carefully placed into boxes and hidden away in the closet.
She made "arty" photo collages and hung them on her walls. She even asked to re-paint her room, preferably black. In her mind, a coat of something like Benjamin Moore's "Witching Hour" coupled with the removal of anything she deemed too pink, princess-y or babyish, would make her room the epitome of tween sophistication.
And while I kindly let her know the walls would be remaining pale yellow, at least for now, I did treat her to a modern looking black and white rug, some zippy zebra stripped sheets and a furry black throw--all very cosmopolitan in the eyes of a 10-year-old.
When I tucked her in to her newly made-over bed last night she gave me a big hug and kiss.
And I don't think she said "Thanks, Mom." I'm pretty sure it was "Thanks, Mommy."