Limited Time Only

I am running out of little girls.  I am so aware lately of how little time I have left for dress-up and potions and imaginary things.  Victoria is nearly twelve and my baby Annalee is ten.

Ten-to-eleven can be a crazy age.  Kids get moody, clumsy, sensitive, confused, irritable.  They want to be big, then they want to be little.  Mothers can become the enemy, even when they were faultless up till now.

I know it’s coming.  I’ve been through it once and have seen many other beloved ten-to-eleven year-olds start on that roller coaster.

Annalee has never been a boring child.  She has been emotional, dramatic, sensitive, energetic, talkative and exuberant since birth.

She has also always been childlike.  Where Victoria was born with an old soul, Annalee was born with a brand new one.

She relished being babied when she was a baby.  Where Victoria had no time for rocking and fussed if I tried a lullaby, Annalee delighted in being snuggled, dressed up, sang to and otherwise mothered.

She was the quintessential little girl when she was little.  She loved princesses, dress-up and make believe.  Everything was pink.  Everything was frilly or feathered.  There were ponies and dolls and sparkles (though not one to be typecast there were also soccer balls, jeans and a perplexing love for math).

And now, at ten, Annalee is still my little girl.  She spent much of yesterday hanging upside down from a tree so Victoria could try out her new camera accessory.  She made up a circus show in the back yard, complete with posters advertising free admission.  She is still crazy about all things Harry Potter.  She still calls me “Mama.”  She still asks me if we can do a craft, please, just the two of us.

I don’t want to misrepresent her — this child can drive me to the brink like none of my others.  She can push buttons, throw fits, take on attitudes and make me nuts.  She is no superchild.  But she is a super child.

Today, Annalee brought me a gourmet egg dish she invented herself (“fresh, local eggs,” she told me, “with chives I snipped fresh from the garden”), watched her little brother, washed walls, scooped the cat box, drew me several pictures, organized her father’s sockets, carried branches, posed for her sister, comforted Alex and ran errands — and most of it she volunteered for without even being asked.

She is a sweet little girl.

Little.  For not much longer.

I am so aware of the ticking of the clock.  I know how little time there is left of this particular girl before she is replaced with an older, wiser, more grown up girl.  She will be just as fabulous, but she will not be this child.

She can only be little for a little while more.

Someday soon, Annalee will outgrow Harry Potter.  Before I know it, it will be time for training bras… dating… college classes… In ten short years, her childhood will be a distant memory.

Tomorrow, Anna says she’s going to wake at 6:45 so she can make Daddy a special egg for when he wakes up.  I think I’ll wake up early too, and maybe do that craft.

“The days are long but the years are short.”
(Anonymous)

6 Comments

Filed under the big stuff

6 responses to “Limited Time Only

  1. Wow, this almost made me cry. My baby girls are 7, 9, and almost 12. My little girl days are limited, too. Thanks for helping me stop and take notice.

  2. Kez

    I was sitting cuddling my 3 year old niece today thinking that same sort of thing – in 10 years my “baby” will be about to turn 18. I was talking to her dad about how quickly they grow up – one day they’re 3, the next they’re 7 and before you know they’re grown up..

    Gorgeous post as usual :)

  3. yup. I was thinking the same thing the other day. Soon the toys will be gone, the days of wanting to be with me constantly will be replaced with days of me wondering where she is and she’ll be holed up in her room with a book. The pretty and the frilly and the dress up will morph away and my little girl will become my young lady. It’s a shock when you walk through a store and realise you don’t have anyone to buy a pretty little dress for…

  4. Rebecca

    My oldest little girl is about to turn ten…this really hits home; it seems that one minute I look at her and she’s the same exuberant curly-headed thing she was a few years ago, and another moment I look at her and almost see the young lady she will be in a few more years…I’m so proud of how she’s growing but I want her to stop, too. I have three more little girls but I know the time will pass just as quickly.

  5. I can feel your sadness. But I must admit I also feel envy, for I will not get a chance to raise a little girl at all. “Don’t cry because it’s over, be thankful because it happened.” –Dr. Seuss.

  6. Magical Childhood

    Oh Risa, what a bittersweet point. I didn’t mean for the post to be too sad, though. I keep this in my mind so I remember to cherish what I have now — crazy-making days and all.

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