I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know how it is Claire is growing into such and intelligent young lady but is still so delightfully childlike at times. Yesterday showed me both sides of my darling girl.
Yesterday was her 11 year old check up. She sat tall and proud on the exam table, answering the doctor’s questions ~ interacting with ease. She answered all kinds of questions about her growing body, changes that were happening and she sat quietly listening, without a hint of embarrassment, as I asked pretty pointed questions of the doctor about her growing and ever changing body. But then there were the moments of pure 11 year old girl as she slid down off the exam table like a filly with overly long legs and lots of gangly limbs. And then there was the moment of truth…the moment she told the doctor she really doesn’t want to grow up. She wants to stop all of these changes. She says life is much easier as a five or six year old. Claire, at 11, knows life is only going to get harder. And my heart hurt for her, as it always does when she talks about not wanting to grow up.
Yesterday, was also Claire’s year end swim banquet and she needed to look just a little nicer than her usual pony tail, shorts and a t-shirt. I asked her if she minded if I did her hair for the night. It’s not something I usually offer or if I do I get a “no thank you.” But yesterday, I got a “yes.” She went up and put on her dress and came downstairs with a brush and ponytail holder. I put two little French braids on either side of her face and connected them in the back. She stood up when I was done and walked away with her long, blond hair swinging behind her. I watched as she walked confidently into the next room, taking her hair and flinging it over one shoulder. I caught a glimpse of my Claire of the future and my breath caught in my throat as I realized how quickly she really is growing up. The long hair falling gracefully over one shoulder is for grown up girls. I want her to hang on tight to her pony tails and t-shirts for as long as she can.
The banquet saw the young side of Claire again as she lamented about going on to middle school and missing being with the kindergartners on a daily basis at school. In fifth grade, she was a safety patrol and she took her job as a leader of the school seriously. She fell in love with some of the youngest in the school and truly enjoyed her role as one of the “big kids.” Her chin quivered and her eyes filled with tears as she looked over another table where one of her small charges from last year sat and she said, ever so quietly, “I am going to miss those kindergartners.” She knows all too well that growing up sometimes means saying goodbye.
As we were driving home, she stunned me with her deepest piece of wisdom. Since swim is ending and dance is done, both being over until September, I asked her if she would like to go into tennis camp next week. She said, “You know, Mom, tennis is your thing. My thing is swimming.” She went on, “I have a friend at swim who only swims because her father regrets not swimming as a kid. She is swimming for him but she doesn’t really like it. I don’t want that to be me. I want to enjoy swimming and I want you to enjoy tennis.”
‘Nuff said. I get it, Claire. Sometimes you are still such a little girl, striving to hold onto the past but other times you amaze me when you show me how you are wise beyond your years.
Oh, for the love of Claire…