Throwback Thursday: When I Grow Up

june girlies being cute
 
June 2009

“I can’t wait to grow up!”

She is insistent, indignant. Her words burst forth with a combination of excitement and frustration.

Why can’t you wait to grow up?

“Because then I’ll be able to do exactly what I want all day long!”

Unable to stop myself, I recall some of the lyrics to “When I Grow Up,” a song from Matilda, The Musical:

When I grow up, I will be tall enough to reach the branches that I need to reach to climb trees you get to climb when you’re grown up
And when I grow up, I will be smart enough to answer all the questions that you need to know the answers to before you’re grown up.

And when I grow up, I will eat sweets everyday on the way to work and I will go to bed late every night
And I will wake up when the sun comes up and I will watch cartoons until my eyes go square and I won’t care cause I’ll be all grown up

When I grow up

I will be strong enough to carry all the heavy things you have to hold around with you when you’re a grown up.
And when I grow up I will be brave enough to fight the creatures that you have to fight beneath the bed each night to be a grown up

I empathize with her sentiment; who among us didn’t wish to grow up faster, right now!, to be an adult and not have all of that terrible kid-stuff to worry about? (In particular, I was eager to have my own phone – the corded kind that attaches to the wall – and to be able to watch R-rated movies, which seemed to me to be the height of maturity.)

“I wouldn’t have to do homework. I wouldn’t have to eat fruits or vegetables before I can eat my crunchy snack. I’d be able to have a car and a license and drive anywhere I want.”

She can’t see what I see: that she is growing up, so freakishly fast, it makes me catch my breath. She and her sister, both; they’re outgrowing their clothes, they care about their hairstyles and dress wearing clothing that “makes {them} look good,” they correctly use complex words and phrases that I didn’t even know they knew, and they are worried about hungry children in the world.

————

This is not bad, really, not at all. Nick and I are truly fortunate to have loved each age they have been – six and eight were great, seven and nine are even better, and I imagine that eight and ten will be really peachy. Just yesterday, Nick and I were chuckling and groaning over a Buzzfeed collection of “The Thirty Five Dumbest Things That Have Ever Happened” – Tweets and Facebook posts about things like people complaining about being stuck on an escalator that stopped running (??) or asking where the Brazil World Cup is going to be held (omg). The girls pestered us to tell them what was so funny, and we were hesitant at first, thinking that they wouldn’t even understand the vast majority of the references much less why they were funny… But they got it! They thought they were hilarious (which also means that my seven and nine year olds are smarter than a lot of really stupid adults, holla!). And I marveled to Nick how incredible this was – sharing these moments, these times that would not have been possible even maybe a few months ago, because our girls are growing up into real, amazing humans and it is just so very cool.

But, oh… it’s so very fast. There are hardly any words that they confuse or mispronounce anymore, and although they still enjoy being held and carried, they’re getting awfully heavy (or I’m getting weaker). I know, it’s such a cliché, the whole It All Goes By So Quickly thing, and I know that I’ve commented on it before… but it doesn’t make it any less true now than it was then.

In fact, the older they get, the more quickly time seems to speed by.

And as for that whole wanting-to-be-a-grown-up thing… Well, shit, honey. In the past two weeks alone, we have drawn up and signed our wills, started the process of getting life insurance, had the lawn mower break (while mid-mow), had the vacuum cleaner break, brought the car in for two recalls, DUCT TAPED a portion of the underbelly of said car onto the bumper so it will stop dragging on the ground, cleaned up vomit, and pondered why the overhead lights in the kitchen mysteriously keep going out despite replacing the bulbs even after having the electrician out.

On each of those occasions, I have – no joke – looked around for the actual adult in charge so that s/he can take responsibility for the deed… only to discover that, through some practical joke the universe is playing, *I* am the adult in charge. HOW IN THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN??

—————

I watch her brush her teeth, resisting the urge to step in and tell her that she’s missed a spot, and ponder the song lyrics again. I am, indeed, tall enough to reach many of the branches, but my body isn’t quite nimble enough to climb the trees the way I used to. I do, in fact, eat sweets every day and stay up way too late, but those things aren’t really working out so well for me in the long run. I don’t wake up with the sun all that often, and I’m not watching too many cartoons, but my eyes definitely go square after a “Modern Family” marathon and it is so totally worth it. (There are some benefits to being grown…)

As far as the answers to the questions, I still don’t have those – not nearly. I am strong, yes, but sometimes the weight of all of the heavy things I am carrying threatens to send me to my knees. And I try to fight the creatures beneath the bed, but I rarely feel brave.

Being grown up is not all it’s cracked up to be.

first and last days
First and last days, 2010

They are nearly done with school, my girls. This is both wonderful and terrifying, the open expanse of summer already looming ominously while simultaneously seeming too short. By the time the nine weeks have gone, they will be a grade older, even more grown up, with the days having flashed by in an instant.

———–

I hug her before she goes to sleep and then put my hands squarely on her shoulders. You need to stop growing, I tell her.

She giggles. “I can’t, Mama!”

No, I’m serious. I love that you’re getting older, I love all that we can do together. I think you’re one of the greatest kids on the planet and I’m so thankful that you are mine.

“Um, thanks.” She is embarrassed but obviously pleased.

But, seriously. It’s happening too fast. You’re getting too old. Please stop growing.

“MOM!!” She’s actually laughing now. “I CAN’T!!”

Could you at least promise me you’ll try?

“But I WANT to get bigger!”

I know. I want you to, too. Could you at least slow it down a little?

“I don’t think so.”

That’s not very nice of you.

“MOM!!

Well, can I at least have another hug, then?

“No.”

What??

“You can have two!”

——-

I feel her arms pressing into my shoulders and back, notice their weight on me exactly, trying to take this in so I will always remember perfectly how this feels.

After she’s asleep, I check on her before I turn in myself, kissing her cheek and smoothing her hair. Then I look underneath her bed – just in case – and, for a moment, feel the tiniest bit brave.

 

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