This strange time between child and tween. These mid-elementary years.
I was prepared (ha) for having a baby. There were steps and milestones and hunger cues.
I knew that the twos and threes would be a challenge. Nothing prepared me for four, but it’s ok. We got through it and all of its emotional roller coaster of learning to be independent.
School started and it was fun and “so big” and losing teeth and learning to read.
I also feel like I’ve prepared my heart for the teen years (and tweens). I know there are going to be disagreements and miscommunications. I know that she’s gonna fight her way out of this nest and that in some painfully romantic way it is how she will learn to fly.
But this age right now? Eight and a half? I wasn’t ready for this.
No books prepared me for this space between child and tween when the eyes are JUST beginning to roll…but not so far that we don’t want to hug and kiss at drop-off.
I wasn’t ready for the intense emotional meltdowns about not having enough time in the day while still insisting that we watch a movie in the evening. Together. As a family. ALL OF US. I honestly don’t know what to do with the nonchalant discussions about the HUGE test tomorrow that we just remembered we should study for, or the way she hates taking showers because she has no self-control (her words, not mine). And I just can’t with the way she leaves the light on…no, ALL the lights…even though I just looked her in the eyes and told her to turn the lights off. I even made her repeat after me “I will turn the lights off.”
She leaves them on. All of them.
But maybe it’s just my kid. Maybe she’s one in a million (not necessarily in all the best ways).
Maybe every day and every stage of a human’s life is a new adventure (or struggle) and when we’re this close to watching a little adult being wrestled into existence it can be exasperating.
But her legs are long and her sighs are long and her gaze out the window is long and I just feel like so much is rushing in that neither of us were ready for…
I was so thankful last week at her yearly physical when the nurse handed me a paper saying, “What to expect” for these years. One line in particular caught my attention: “This age is very ‘black and white.’ The world is either beautiful or ugly. The day is either amazing or horrible. Things are perfect or a complete disaster.”
And there she is…curled up in a ball in the space between becoming who she is and knowing who she is. Trying to find childlike joy as the dullness of reality begins slowly creeping in. Noticing the darkness while wishing on stars for the light to remain just a little bit longer.