The girl and I have embarked on another journey. With the teenage years lurking around the corner anxious to envelope my baby girl, I give them the "side eye" and tell them to hold on, I've got a few months of preparation to do. This is crunch time, every moment counts.
I've finally succumbed to the reality that I can't protect my baby girl from the woes and challenges of the world. I must move from protection to preparation. I probably started too late in this transition but who doesn't really want their baby girl to stay in pigtails and My Little Pony for as long as possible.
This year's journey of ours reflects these changes as we incorporate some of her peers into our adventures. This glimpse of my girl as she interacts with her best friend shows me the face that she shows to the world when she's not under my protection and quite frankly my "side eye".
I see her test the waters of how to maneuver this transition. Typically her days are spent with the lines clearly divided, the school bus as her transition from home girl to pre-teen friend girl. At school and activities where she spreads her wings and tests out some things. Where sometimes she laughs and grows and other times pulls back with caution unsure of how her wings will carry her.
There is so much I want to teach, but I know I can't write it out or present her with a powerpoint presentation on how to grow up and what to expect. It must come carefully with well placed intention. How do I teach her not to emulate some of my biggest challenges that she's watched. Did I ever tell her which of those things she witnessed I'm not proud of and don't want for her? Did I carefully underscore those things I'm most proud of that I want her to live again and again?
In just a few short hours I learn of the "crush", the one she hadn't told me about. I smile and tell her that's awesome and I want to know about this lucky boy. She looks at me cautiously to see if she's safe. Then later she comes to show me the boy's Instagram photo with a huge smile, happy that for a brief moment her worlds are colliding. I so want this girl of mine to feel safe with her fears and frustrations and happy crushes of boys with crooked teeth and cowlicks in their hair. I now know that I've made things more difficult for her with my outspoken views of right and wrong, accidentally telling her that the gray area is a dangerous place. I must correct this and show her that most of life is living in the gray.
Maybe I've overprotected, maybe our home has been too busy and tumultuous to let her feel truly safe and to show this vulnerable side of her most fabulousness. I'm working hard to bridge the gap, not too hard because she senses when things are too planned too structured afraid she won't get it right. This cautious and compliant girl of mine. So different from me but with eyes that match mine and I hope a heart that matches mine too. I realize that parenting is more about showing than telling and I'm also trying to find my way. I must find a way to join hands with my beautiful girl and let us help each other navigate this gray.
I must show not tell and be her love and support and her guide through braces and bumps along the way and boys with grins a mile wide. Less telling more showing, the lessons on our journeys are more for me I understand. A chance to pull away from the mad dash to the bus and the fray of life to see her, really see her and fall in love again with my beautiful baby girl.