Thursday, February 2, 2017

An eight year old lives here

An eight year old lives in our house now, and the game continues to change. I should learn to expect change by now, but my sentimental heart keeps trying to hold on just a little longer. Mothering her is more a game of call and answer than it is it offering instruction and watching. She is capable of so much and my guidance is now largely reactionary. She feels things deeply, just as she always has. It makes my heart break a little explaining answers to questions like, "why are there orphans?" and "do people only die when they get old?"

Birthday up do courtesy of her best friend's talented stylist mama)
She is learning what it means to work hard at something. Being older, she can take the long view, and is understanding that short term pain can mean long term gain. (Cough, piano lessons, cough). I am figuring out how to balance gentleness with setting firm expectations and boundaries. I try to incorporate reasons with explanations that make an impact but don't go too far. (A YouTube video of frostbitten ears was enough reason to get her to decide for herself to wear her winter hat). I feel almost every day that her brain is developing too quickly for me to keep up.

Eight years old started with swimming in a hotel pool, birthday pancakes, a fancy birthday party with friends, marking her height on her door frame, a visit to the donut shop, a homemade reading canopy over her bed, phone calls and messages from across the country, and a big family dinner at Pizza Hut.  Watching her open gifts, and react with grace and genuine gratitude made me so proud of her. I can really see now the endearing qualities that come from deep inside her. I am learning to claim little responsibility for the complex, shifting set of traits and qualities kept inside her cute little frame. I do, however, love remembering the tiny seeds of closeness that started between us in her nursery in the Yukon that have grown into lush blooms today.

She will grow and change, and so will I. But in moments of difficult upset and jubilant thrill, we have an embrace that fits us together so perfectly.

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