This is 9

girl with flagNine arrived in our house this week, and she did not come quietly. She came, instead, bedecked in sparkles and armed with shrieks of giggles.

It was a relief. Nine is tough on parents. It’s halfway to 18. It’s the final year of single digits.

And yet, it seems, 9 is still childhood.

Presents are still expected to be fun. Bedtime extensions still begged for. Toys still wanted and played with. Battles still pitched over bedroom cleaning requests.

Nine, so far, is feeling like a bigger version of 8, albeit with the threat of double digits inching ever closer.

I’ll take it. [Read more…]

The Milestone You Never See Coming …

Growing up Milestones rarely creep up on mothers. Instead we are prone to urging them on, to lying on beds facing our red-faced infants, cajoling them to roll over; to plopping wriggling toddlers on potties and sweet-talking them into being big girls and boys.

These are the milestones you read about in the parenting books and search for on the Internet. These are the milestones which we celebrate.

Then there are those that sneak up on us.

You’re lying bed one night, reading yourself to sleep, when a voice calls down the hall, “Moooooom.” [Read more…]

Not. Another. Snow Day!!

Girl in snow

By now, we should all know better than to complain about another storm. So it’s cold and they’re predicting snow? It’s January in the northeast. Get used to it.

So I won’t complain about the cold. Or the snow.

I won’t even voice my displeasure with the black ice.

But folks, I am going to come right out and say it. The snow days. For the love of all that is good in this world and the sanity of parents near and far, they CAN’T continue. [Read more…]

Hair, There, and Everywhere — AKA Life With a Girl Child

little girl's hairThere it was. A long blond hair, hanging from the top shelf of the refrigerator. It must have caught as the 8-year-old rummaged for a yogurt to fill the gaping hole that is a signal of another impending growth spurt.

Yes, I’ve found hair in the fridge. The cleaned-on-a-regular-basis fridge.

What’s more, I’ve found long blond hairs on the short brown and white haired dog. I’ve found them inside a pair of freshly laundered jeans.

Behold another portion of parenthood they neglect to tell you about in the “what to expect” books. Hair, it seems, is everywhere, at least when you produce a girl child (side note: I’m aware there are little boys with long hair, but they’re the exception, not the rule, so bear with me).

Along with glitter, stickers, and itty bitty LEGO bricks, blond hair has taken over my life. [Read more…]

So This Is Growing Up

This is growing up waterIt wasn’t so long ago that I could hold her in one hand. Or I would have, if it weren’t for the wobbly head and that charge of fear coursing through the blood of every new mother that makes you cradle them, two arms, two hands, as close to the body as possible.

They say it gets better with the second, that you learn to actually do things and hold the baby at the same time. I wouldn’t know.

I have just the one. And she’s getting too big to carry.

Not that I don’t still try. [Read more…]

She Was Waiting for Adventure to Arrive

I came home from the farmers’ market on Sunday to find my daughter on our front lawn. Her face fell as I pulled into the driveway.

I wasn’t hurt.

It was only me, not the grandparents driving north from Georgia, the grandparents who’d texted at 9:15 that they’d be here in five hours.

She’s old enough now to read a clock, old enough to add five hours to 9:15, but what’s a little math up against the sheer excitement of impending visitors?

When you’re 8, nothing.

I sat, for a few moments, inside my car and watched her dancing around the front lawn. It all came flooding back.

Too many years ago, that was me. Only instead of a yard in Callicoon Center it was a front porch in Callicoon, a cement slab with the cement steps I once fell from (footie pajamas, they’ll get you every time).
Those steps and the metal rail around it are both long gone, but on Sunday I could feel them both against my skin.
For hours I’d sit and wait for my “aunt” to come up from New Jersey. I knew she’d come bearing books and bagels and attention for me, the kid.
I couldn’t wait.
Sitting out there made the waiting seem interminable, and yet, there was the promise of an end, the promise that I’d spot the car first, that the adventure would begin that much sooner.
On Sunday I wasted just a few moments wandering down memory lane. I had fresh cherries and fresh baked bread to unload from the car, a fresh pie from the bakery in Jeffersonville, plucked from the table at the Callicoon market precisely because the grandparents were on their way. I had to get these things inside, get back to checking items off the endless list of preparations for the house when guests are headed into town.
But as I wandered past her with my canvas bags of goodies, I stopped for just a moment and looked out at the yard, at the driveway, at the open road, and smiled.

Adventure awaited out there.

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Watching Childhood From the Other Side of the Fence

I’ve said more than a few times over the years that you couldn’t pay me to return to high school. You still can’t.

The school bus. The chemistry labs. The pecking order.

Never again.

I’d rather go back further.

Eight seems about right, when times were simpler, pleasures easy to find.

When all it took to make “the awesomest day ever” was Mom talking your big cousin into taking you on a tractor ride around Callicoon on parade day.

When the sight of candy being chucked from the back of a tractor train made your eyes big as saucers.

When you could hop aboard the same merry-go-round you’ve played on at the park hundreds of times before and it would be like a brand new adventure.

When the small landing above your slide was a clubhouse and three small swings in your backyard a gymnastics center.

When the most confounding question of the evening was: what will I read when I finish this book?

When your friends crowd ’round you in the backyard to watch you blow out candles on your birthday cupcakes.

When you can’t wait to actually “feel” your age.

I’d go back there … but I don’t have to. I’m watching it from the other side this time.

Is there one age you’d go back to?

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8. It’s So Much More Than 7

my heartShe turns 8 this week. My baby. No, that’s wrong.

There is no baby there.

My child. My child turns 8 this week.

It’s just one year from 7, and yet, it’s so much more.

It’s halfway to 16.

It’s a piece of 18.

Knock it over, and it becomes the sign for infinity. It might as well be.

She’s older now than ever before. She gets embarrassed. She gets my jokes (some of them). She spits some back. [Read more…]

Hoarders: 7-Year-Old Edition

e85ef-hoardermess

I wouldn’t call myself a hoarder. Sure, my dining room table looks like a bomb went off. That I call motherhood, not hoarding. I have time to sweep the floors and clean the toilet and hang out with my kid on weekends. That’s just about as much as the clock gives me.

As for my 7-year-old, well, let’s just say if you saw the Homeland Security threat warning wavering on Sunday, an empty bag of Goldfish crackers may have been the trigger. [Read more…]

You’re Alright ‘Til They Discover the Phone

old-fashioned phone

I thought I was prepared for the big moments of aging. Losing teeth? Bring on the tooth fairy! Reading chapter books? All hail Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume! 

But it has happened. The moment I forgot was coming has arrived and hit me right in the guts.

The 7-year-old has discovered the telephone.

Oh, she knew it existed before. She’s played dizzying games of hide and go seek with her grandparents thousands of miles away over speakerphone (don’t ask … did I mention she’s 7?).

But there’s talking to adults. And then there’s locking yourself in your playroom so you can talk to another kid with a little PRIVACY.

It has happened. My kid needs privacy to talk to her friends on the phone about important matters such as Webkinz (if you aren’t familiar, be thankful … it’s an online game for kids that will make your eyes glaze over) and when to have the next sleepover.

At least, that’s what I think they’re talking about. When you ask a 7-year-old what they talk about with their friends, you’re likely to get such enlightening answers as, “I forget” and “stuff.”

Oy vey.

Thirteen is coming. I can almost hear it slamming the bedroom door from here.

To retain my sanity, I try to remind myself that this is adorable. Just last week she managed to have a “playdate” with cousins who live four hours away via the phone and the aforementioned website. I was allowed to be in the room for that one, and I wish I’d thought to record the sound of those little voices. It was the sort of thing that makes you all mushy and gushy inside.

And only a curmudgeon would listen to the messages on the answering machine and not smile wide. Little voices nervous and giggly, barely getting out their names before hanging up. They’re braver than I was in my day – because, yes, I’m now officially old enough to have had “my day, I have a 7-year-old with phone privileges. I wasn’t one for leaving actual messages; that is if friends had actual machines (am I dating myself enough for you?).

So there you have it. Time has marched on for me, and it’s marching onward for her too.

Thank goodness it’s done so for the phone company too – unlimited calling is going to be our new best friend for years to come.

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Image via zigazou76/Flickr