... to this beautiful little bundle of joy,
I instinctively knew, that raising her would be the challenge of a lifetime. At only a few weeks old, this little girl had a look on her face, that warned me, that she was not going to be a Forget Me Not, hidden away in a corner, waiting for someone to to accidentally stumble upon her. This was going to be a rose, of a burning red color, and with a few thorns. She was going to grow, no matter what, and she was going to make it known, that handling roses needed to be done with extreme care.
So I put on my gloves, and I raised her. I sheltered her from stormy weather, I "fertilized" her, cared for her, and made sure she had everything she needed in life. As a baby she spit up a lot. I remember the couch and Febreze smell vividly.
I remember a girl who walked at 10 months old, ready to take on the big world.
I remember a girl who climbed out of her crib at 15 months old... ten... fifteen times after being taken to bed.
I remember the terrible twos, threes and fours. I remember joyous times and admired her intelligence. I quickly learned that she was a spirited child, and those thorns grew with the rose.
This is not a child that felt the need to please others. If she felt a certain way about someone she was not afraid to show them. It was a tough lesson to learn, that those same people might not care much for her either. But in the end she stood by her principles, and while this may cause some problems during her childhood, I believe it will serve her well, when she's an adult. I don't want her pretending to be someone she is not.
This girl is now 8 years old. And after the terrible sevens, we have successfully transitioned into the terrible eights. She has strong ideas of what life should be like. She is extremely intelligent, and sometimes she forgets what's appropriate, and how to cope with situations. She's ahead of her age, but stuck with a limited ability to handle "problems" she has created. She has lost a few thorns, and has become vulnerable. She believes in telling the truth, and has never kept a secret from me. At the same time she struggles with the fact, that her friends do the same thing. She has high expectations in the people around her... expectations she sometimes can't meet herself. And she gets immensely frustrated about her own inability to figure out problems. She wants to be an adult and a little girl at the same time. She is confused... just the way I was at 14. And that's where the real trouble lies.
I wonder, if it's real for all or at least most girls at this age. Is this pre-pubescent behavior appropriate for her age? Is it simply the next generation that starts even earlier than we did? I remember my mother's words, when I was a teenager. She would tell people that I seemed to have the same problems she did... only four years earlier.
I wish I could help her be a child a little longer. I wish I could spare her the drama she's experiencing, and the consequences this drama brings along with it. It's a package to carry for an 8 year old girl... one I'm not sure she's ready to carry.
And since I can't seem to spare her, because she lives part of her life when I'm not around and says things she doesn't want to say, how do I do damage control? How do I prevent the worst things from happening? I feel inadequate when I look at this girl, all this energy that's bundled up inside her, the explosiveness, the struggle... the rose, that has yet to face life's biggest hurdles. How can a mother protect her children... knowing that it really is just a matter of time, until she has to let go, in hopes that she has done everything right... and if not everything, then at least enough, to let her walk out into the world, and suffer some bumps and bruises, but no major injuries...
What do you do? What is your trick? Do you have any tricks? Do you take it day by day hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst? Are girls tougher to raise than boys? (It does seem that way to me.) I'm going to cook now, and let her make the salad. She has made our salads for a few weeks now. She makes a mean salad dressing. :)