I did something last night that I don’t do nearly as often as I should. I played with my daughter. Before anyone gets worked up about that statement, let me clarify. I do play with her often. I do spend time with her and love on her and talk to her every day. I do all the stereotypical “good mommy” things.
This time, however, we really played. We played her games, her way, in her timing. We sat together on the couch, facing each other as she curled up in my lap. No television. No radio. No phone or computer. No distractions. No agenda. No time limit.
We played “grab my nose”, tickle time, and complicated versions of patty cake. We played “Rock, Paper, Scissors” followed by a new version titled “Fire, Water, Paper” (it was interesting). We sang songs, both existing and original. We laughed until we both had tears in our eyes and our bellies ached. We wiggled every tooth in her mouth individually and pondered which ones were loose, which one might fall out first, and the risk versus reward of trying to catch the Tooth Fairy in the act.
We had a long discussion on the merits of staying little instead of growing up. She was quite patient with me as she explained that she can’t stay in Kindergarten forever, even though I asked her to. She has to grow up and lose her teeth and grow big ones like mine.
She had me in stitches with her impressions of “mean girls” from the movies. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen this kid cock her hip to the side, snap her fingers overhead and say, “Stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen.” I nearly wet my pants. And I literally could not catch my breath through my laughter as she switched into an English accent for the next five minutes of all our dialogue. This was followed by a conversation almost entirely comprised of spontaneous song lyrics in the place of speech.
I love this child beyond description.
She’s funny and interesting and creative. Her thought process fascinates and entertains me in equal parts. She’s growing so fast, and throughout the evening, I kept catching glimpses of her in years to come through her movements and expressions and tone. It was beautiful. And terrifying.
She’s graduating from Kindergarten today. In a few minutes, I’ll wake her up and start this very special day in her life. I’ll feed her breakfast and help her put on the new dress we picked out together. I’ll listen to her tell me all about how excited she is, and how she’s nervous because so many people will be staring at her as she crosses the stage. I’ll nod as she reminds me to leave her hair down so her graduation cap stays on.
On the drive to school, I’ll have the image in my head of her “rehearsal” last night. Of how she walked me through every step of the ceremony, complete with barstool stand-ins of the principal and assistant principal. Of her smile when I announced her name so she could practice walking out and shaking hands with the “administrators”. Of her stern admonishment to hold my applause until after the whole class was done, and her giggles when I asked if I could bring a cow bell.
I’ll sit with my husband, boys, and family members with nervous anticipation in a cafeteria full of others doing the same. I’ll juggle cameras and kleenex, trying not to drop either.
I’ll wave my arm in a manic frenzy when she walks in, and wait for her face to light up when she sees us. I’ll clap and cheer and cry more tears than I care to count.
And when it’s over, when the smiles and hugs and pictures are complete, I won’t have a Kindergartner anymore.
So, I’ll cry more tears.
Because this is all at once a small thing, and a big one. Because she’s my baby, and she’s not a baby anymore. Because her transitions and graduations only get bigger from here on. Because the years are flying by at increasing speeds, and as much as I want them to, they just won’t slow down.
Because the night before her next graduation she’ll be too big to sit in my lap, and it will be here way before I’m ready.
I’m grateful it’s not here, yet. I’m grateful there are still plenty of opportunities for cuddles, kisses, and make-believe. For games, songs, laughter, and accents. For sitting in laps and memory building. For writing new chapters and growing along the way.
I am determined to soak up and store as much as I can, with all of my children, over the next years and seasons. To slow myself down, even if I can’t decrease the fast march of time. To cherish all the moments, big or small, special or mundane, celebrated or not….even the ones that break my heart. They are all part of our story, and it’s my favorite one of all.
We can always add accents or theme music along the way.