My oldest baby turns 10 tomorrow. Double digits.* A tween.** (She is having a sleepover tonight with some friends to celebrate. Send espresso.) (For me, not for them.) Robin keeps insisting that Riya, who will be a 5th-grader next school year, will therefore will be going to middle school the year after that, but I am pretty sure his logic is flawed somehow.
Last night I watched Karina dance in her spring recital, and when she got up on stage, I thought, “Wait. Who is that long-legged lithe little thing? What happened to the chubby cheeks and the toddler belly? No, for real – WAIT.”
Ben can almost beat me at chess. (He would definitely beat me if it came down to knowledge alone. My only saving grace is that he often forgets to watch out for threats to his queen and I get lucky.) He doesn’t call me Mom-Mom anymore.
My point, other than the whole ongoing why-does-time-keep-going-so-bleeping-fast thing, is that I guess I thought by now I would kinda know something about … something.
No matter how many times I learn the lesson that in parenting, or maybe just in life, your skills become obsolete as soon as you master them, it still surprises me. Why, yes, child, I understand that you can now scramble your own eggs, and have strong opinions about your hairstyle, but it took me years to perfect a system of feeding and grooming you and your siblings, and WOULD IT KILL YOU TO WORK WITHIN THE SYSTEM?
My children are justifiably as baffled by this as I am, because inevitably each time I melt into please-still-be-my-baby mode, it’s followed soon after by my alter ego. This mom might, for example, be rejoicing one minute to tuck a sleepy child into bed, then fuming in the hallway a moment later because said sweet, sleepy child almost got away with hiding a week’s dirty clothes under the bed. Or, this mom might wax nostalgic for the days when her kids brought home finger paintings every day from preschool, but then throw an epic fit upon discovering a positively toddleresque marker incident on somebody’s carpet.
Stop growing up so fast! But also, stop acting like a kid! Why do you look so confused?
Dearest Riya, Ben, and Karina, all I can say in my defense is this: Your dad and I are making this up as we go along. Surprise! [jazz hands!] Fortunately, you are all doing an absolutely stellar job growing up, so – hey! – good job with that! Keep up the good work.
And also? Thanks for letting us come along for the ride.
*Did anybody else have the Nintendo game “Double Dribble” when you were a kid? It had one of those secret codes you (meaning my brother) could put in to get more lives or time or whatever, but you (meaning my brother) had to enter it quickly, in the time between the Nintendo screen and the game’s main menu. When you (meaning my brother) got to the main menu, the super-realistic computer voice would go, “Dou-ble Drib-ble!” but if you (meaning my brother) hadn’t gotten the code quite right, you (meaning my brother) would have to restart and do it again. You (meaning my brother) might do this several times in a row until getting the result you (meaning my brother) wanted, forcing the other members of your household to listen to “Dou-ble Drib-ble… Dou-ble Drib-ble… Dou-ble Drib-ble…” over and over and over and over again.***
**Word did not exist outside of the Shire when I was a “tween” myself.***
***I am old.