Sophie will be eight years old in September. She’s getting taller by the hour, multiplying numbers I never knew she could even add together, using words I didn’t know she’d ever heard before, drawing pictures I would never be able to draw myself…
She’s a little whirling dervish and I’m just trying to observe her without giving myself whiplash from the speed of her growth.
And yet, in some respects, Sophie’s simply her 2-year old self in a bigger body. Every morning, without fail, she asks me to get her dressed. She’s perfectly capable of doing it herself. She did it for her Papa when I was away and she’ll do it for me once in awhile if I give her a sufficiently pathetic hangdog look in the morning. Every evening, without fail, she asks me to change her into her pajamas. And she’ll then inevitably request that I put her to bed after reading her books, of course.
Since I’ve left work, I’ve been much more indulgent with her various toddler-regressive requests. How could I not be? Look at that face. But that doesn’t mean I always acquiesce to her demands. Sometimes I’m just not in the mood. Sometimes I just want her to grow up already. Sometimes I feel she simply needs to do these things for herself.
So I have this internal dialogue with myself, which usually lasts no more than a minute or two. I start by saying “no” and then Sophie cops an attitude. Makes faces, studiously ignores me and kicks stuff if she’s really pissed off…
Do I stand firm or do I give in? And as I’m deciding which way to go, I catch a glimpse of her when she’s not looking. I smile at those cheeks, which are still baby-like in their chubbiness, and I see my reflection in her big brown eyes. I stare at that luxurious curly hair and her perfectly formed chin.
And I have an epiphany. Why the hell am I so impatient for her to grow up? One day very soon she will run away in abject horror if I try to undress her or tuck her into bed. And then I will look back on these glory days with nostalgia and sadness, wishing I hadn’t resisted the all-too-brief opportunities to hold her, inhale her little girl smell and linger in the irresistible joy of her youth.