Friday, June 19, 2009

they grow up

Despite my mixed feelings about the country of origin of Buttercup's new clothes, I can't help but admit how cute she looks in them. What really strikes me about this picture, though, is how grown up she looks all of a sudden.

Kids go through these jumps from time to time. Five years ago, we were at my mother and stepfather's house in Ohio, and Buttercup went through the first of these jumps I truly recall. She was just shy of two and fully in the midst of toddlerhood. Bopping around playgrounds, slurping down cereal bars, apple juice, and bananas like nobody's business, figuring out new words all the time, stringing together sentences. She didn't stop doing that, but one day her face grew up. She stopped looking like a toddler and started looking like a little girl. It was sudden, and I almost missed it—but for my mother pointing it out.

A similar thing happened a year ago when her end-of-year ballet recital was approaching. The day pictures were taken and costumes went on, I watched her turn from a little girl, a kindergardener, into a kid, a girl heading into the "real" elementary grades. Even though their dance was simple, the control she suddenly showed over her body and the way she stood changed. With her hair pulled back, gone were the goofy bangs and little girl moments — there was a kid, growing up.

The other day, I felt another of these moments approaching. She seemed to have grown six inches in a day, and her sense of self seemed to have leapt into the stratosphere. With the newly pierced ears and evolving fashion sense — each day's outfit is carefully crafted — she's become a whole new person again. Then I looked at the pictures we took of her outfits after the Hanna box arrived the other day, each tried on in different combinations, and in her pose and expression, I could once again see the big kid she's well on her way to becoming.

It's a remarkable journey, this parenting thing.