An Old Fashioned Reflection

In two senses. First of all, on the eve of my daughter's 6th birthday, I am engaging in the time-honored tradition of wondering where the time has gone. Six years ago tomorrow, I became the mother of a girl, and promptly wondered what on earth I was going to do with one of those. Having only parented boys up to that point, I was sure I was headed for a household of boyness. I was so very wrong.

Second of all, on the eve of my daughter's 6th birthday, her father made me a very large Old Fashioned, and it's working its way through my circulatory system in a delightfully fuzzy way, even as I type. 'Scuse any typos.

It really is quite something how time goes by, and how little people emerge into real, independent, autonomous beings, right before our eyes. Today, while Lola and I were running errands, we ran into a neighbor, who tried to talk to little Missy. Little Missy did her usual: she looked at me with pleading eyes as if to say, "Please answer for me; I cannot." Later, we talked about how we (Rick and I) want her to answer people when they talk to her, and work on having a modicum of social graces with others. A few hours later at Tilden Park, she proudly told me that she said "Hello!" to a boy who said hello to her. Wow. They listen every now and then. Who knew?

And so, on the eve of my daughter's 6th birthday, I find myself amazed at all of them, at the way they are growing and laughing and fighting their way through life. I truly believe that children are more honest about their relationships, with others and with the world, than adults. When they're mad, they lash out; when they're sad, they sob; when they're happy, they laugh their little backsides off. They mean what they say. They ask the first questions that occur to them. They react. They do not edit, screen, censor, or omit. They relate.

I wanna be a kid again.

Speaking of wanna. On the way home from daycare today, Tallulah ate her half of the z-bar that she and Elizabeth had split. Elizabeth had already downed hers, so she decided her little sister needed to share. And the youngest of five promptly shoved the whole thing in her mouth, clearly as an alternative to handing any of it over. Which lead to the following refrain, which I heard too often to count as my car snaked its way down San Pablo Avenue at rush hour:

"IWANNABAR!" Hit the high notes on WAN and BAR, and then repeat like 50 times, and you'll have a good idea of what I was enduring. Made me "wanna bar" of a different sort...

So the old-fashioned reflection is this: They -- my children -- embody all of life's intensity and complexity, minute by minute and day by day. String enough of those minutes and days together, and pretty soon, you're taking your daughter to get her ears pierced, and wondering how she ever got those calves all shapely like that. String enough of those minutes and days together, and you are bound to marvel at just how intense your parent-anger, parent-love, parent-fear, and parent-joy can be.

I may not be a person who "wears her heart on her sleeve," so to speak, but at moments like these, on the eve of my daughters 6th birthday, I feel strongly the push and pull of love, the impossibility of my children growing up and out and beyond my reach. It's all over me like a warm blanket that someone is tauntingly pulling off of me, even as I scramble to tug it back into place. I don't want them to get bigger, and yet I can't wait to see those ears pierced, to see where those calves will take her, to marvel at the way she is in the world, laughing, fighting, growing.

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