There are certain milestone ages kids look forward to reaching, and for a variety of reasons. Where I come from (the US), turning 16 means getting a driver’s license; 18 means you’re legal and can vote; and 21 means you can drink alcohol. Turning the big 3-0 or 4-0 or any 0 sometimes hits a nerve, and at 65 you can retire. Little kids are perhaps less into the future than we are, though, so they might focus on turning five and going to kindergarten. Or turning 10, ending the single-digit era forever.
My oldest daughter Leah turns 10 this week. All last year she looked forward to the double digits, seeing the possibility of a mobile phone in her future, among other things. But as the date neared, her attitude changed. Not trying to personally dwell on the inevitable, I would casually tease that she was getting old, or that I couldn’t possibly be 10 years older myself. Instead of joking back, she very seriously would tell me, “Stop saying that,” or “I don’t want to talk about it.” After a little prodding about this change of heart, emotions got the best of Leah. Through quivering lips she said, “But … that means in only eight years I won’t be around you all the time anymore.”
What?! This, coming from the child who practically walked out of my body at birth she was so independent? I was taken aback. But then I quickly realized she’s still very much a little girl. Double digits or not, she’s starting to recognize that maybe being young and protected and taken care of isn’t such a bad thing after all. I happen to love this new phase she’s in, however brief it may be.
The double digit rite of passage has turned out to be a bigger deal than even I anticipated. We parents know that time passes much too quickly as we watch our children grow. While I try to embrace every age and stage my kids go through, it’s nice to see that even Leah isn’t quite ready to grow up too fast.
Happy birthday to Leah, always my little girl.