She is almost 11

and as she opened the garage door to go play tonight,

she closed it quick and walked

into the bathroom.

I knew why.

There was a boy outside.

I peeked in to find her

checking her hair.

I grinned and she laughed saying, “What?!?!”

“Your hair looks nice!” I replied.

“Thanks!” she said

then trotted out the door.

She is almost 11

and she put on her bike helmet

without caring about the uncoolness of it all

with her two just-showered braids

dangling below her shoulders.

She is almost 11

and she rode her bike

past the boy playing basketball

and just as she reached his vicinity

she stood up on the pedals,

riding with a little more speed and a little more confidence.

She is almost 11

and I am not ready

for her to be 11

for the need to impress

for the grown up independence

for any of it.

Think I will hold onto 10 for a little while longer

The Difference a Half Year Makes

When my daughter Sasha visited the dentist six months ago, she had a complete melt down. As a recently turned ten year old with a bad gag reflex and high anxiety about the dentist office, it did not go well. There was crying, her actually physically swatting the dental hygienist AND dentist’s hands away from her mouth, and there was of course, sweating.  That was all me.

No part of her meltdown was to be intentionally difficult but a long standing worry of gagging and throwing up had her a complete wreck. The dentist actually told her she had to come back three days later when she was more calm to let her count her teeth. And she did. And it was okay.

When the appointment reminder e-mail arrived two weeks ago, I tried to get out of taking her.  Multiple ideas came to my head…ask her father to take her, ask my husband – her step-dad, ask my dad, ask my friend with no kids, ask a random stranger, play sick.  I really didn’t care who took her, as long as it wasn’t me.

You see, I felt like a lost and tortured soul six months ago at that appointment.  I must have failed as a mother in some way that my daughter was such a disaster.  She was in tears and I was fighting back tears.  She begged for me to make it stop and I begged her to sit in the chair so the dentist could do her job. So Sasha’s teeth didn’t rot. And fall out.

One week ago, I told her about yesterday’s appointment. I timed it just right.  One week away meant time to practice desensitizing her to the dentist’s tools.  Like I did after the dentist invited us back, I would use Q-tips to practice touching her teeth as I held her mouth open with the end of a toothbrush or anything that would resemble the feel of the mirror tugging at her cheek.

But I didn’t get the reaction I had expected.  She was excited.  She told me that she had been practicing brushing her back teeth.  She was ready.  Who was this child/tween/girl/young lady?

I was not ready.  I had been filled with dread for days. I was worried about her, worried for me.  It was stressful for both of us and I didn’t want a repeat experience.

Yesterday was the big day.  The hygienist took her back by herself.  I could see Sasha in the room, from the waiting area.  There was no screaming or crying to be heard and when I finally did catch Sasha’s eye, she mouthed the words, “I did the x-ray already” I bulged my eyes out of my head and gave her a questioning thumbs up, as if to say, “Really?!?!”  She responded with a giant smile and returned with her own double thumbs up and head nodding.

I was invited back just before Dr. Dave came in.  Sasha was beaming.  I was not sweating. It was a glorious moment.

I am reminded that sometimes the best surprises are the ones when you assume the worst and the best happens.

It was a good day.

On Being the Chosen One…

She has been ultra-clingy to me lately and it is not just because she has been sick for the last few days.

The clinginess has been going on for well over two weeks.

I read an article about how almost-two year olds do this…choose one parent to cling to.

I am the chosen one.

My husband doesn’t like it one bit.

He is jealous.

His “perfect princess” thinks Mommy is more perfect than Daddy.

I think it’s funny.

Except at bath time and snack time and bed time when she only wants me and no one else.

This makes it a bit difficult to pee alone and make food and sweep the crumb-covered floor.

But recent moments remind me…

Two hours awake in the middle of Thursday night until her fever broke, just she and I, her sweatiness wetting my shirt as I rubbed her back.

“Can I have a hug?” I asked of her yesterday morning.

She laid her head on my chest, hands stretched around my shoulders then looked up at me with a giant smile.

“Can I have another hug?”

A flash of grin and her forehead pushes into my neck, again.

I smell her hair, breathe her in.

This goes on for as long as she allows.

Hug? Smile. Snuggle. Hug? Smile. Snuggle. Hug? Smile. Snuggle.

I am going to enjoy being the chosen one.

After all, we have a ten year old daughter, too.  I know exactly where this is headed.

Having Heart

I picked up my youngest today after “the call” from daycare came.  If you are the parent of a child that is in daycare, then you get what I mean by “the call.”

She had a fever and needed lots of snuggles. It was a nice afternoon in which we read a lot of books.

I am always amazed by daycare teachers.  Miss Anna told me that Gabby was not herself that morning. I love that she knows my daughter that well.  Daycare teachers are unsung heroes.

I was reminded of how recently I had a conversation with an acquaintance.  I had run into her the week before at the daycare. I asked what room her son was in and after speaking about his teacher, I asked what room her infant was in.

Her response struck me hard in the gut.  She said, “Oh, she isn’t in daycare. I don’t have the heart to do that.”

I did not take her comment well. In fact, I took it as a direct attack on all parents who must not have a heart when they put their babies in daycare.  This may seem extreme to some and I am pretty sure that she did not mean it in that exact way but it felt hurtful to me.

What I said in the moment in response to her: Nothing.

What I said in my head over the next hour in various ways: No one has the heart to put their baby in daycare, but sometimes they have to and sometimes they want to. 

Too many parents judge other parents for their decisions and we need to make it stop. We need to have the heart to accept that every parent is going to do things differently and that there is no right way, just what is right for your family.

I am grateful for the daycare experiences of all three of my children.  They had loving teachers who knew when they weren’t themselves and loved them up almost as much as I would, if I was there.