Sophie shot up four inches in the past year. I never appreciated the miracle of a four-inch growth spurt until I observed her over the summer and realized both to my delight and horror that my little girl’s body had stretched out – not unlike Gumby – and almost entirely lost its childlike proportions. Unbeknownst to us, her body was apparently preparing itself for its tenth birthday, a milestone she finally reached this evening at 8:49 pm.
As her body grew vertically, her feet expanded horizontally. Although Sophie remains shorter than me – barely – her feet are now the same size as mine. A fact she serendipitously discovered last month when she raided my shoes, most of which are vestiges of my days working in an office when I tried to seem more trendy than I really am. Let’s face it, now that I spend most of my time writing and shuttling the girls around town, much of my footwear is superfluous.
“They fit perfectly!” Sophie exclaimed as she gingerly walked around my bedroom in my bright purple pumps, dressed in her favorite fraying nightshirt, which is now about two sizes too small for her.
This wasn’t the first time Sophie pranced around the house in my shoes. She did it several times when she was younger, and she was clumsy and silly and adorable, like all little kids who attempt to walk in shoes that are several sizes too big for their small feet.
When adolescent Sophie sashayed across my bedroom in my shoes a few weeks ago, however, it was no longer so clumsy and not nearly as silly as it was when she was four. Yes, it was still charming. Yes, it still made me laugh. But it was unsettling, too. My shoes are not appropriate for a 10-year old’s feet, but they fit her perfectly, like Cinderella’s glass slippers.
She’s a girl on the cusp of becoming a young woman, I thought to myself, feeling more than a little nostalgic for the clumsy, tiny Sophie of yesteryear.
“These were pretty good,” said Sophie, giving the heels with the green suede flowers the equivalent of a three-star review. Indeed, they are not my most comfortable pair. I was sure she’d be seduced by their floral design, so when she expressed only mild enthusiasm for them, I was surprised. Sophie is no longer so concerned about pleasing everyone. She’s more willing to speak her mind – the good, the bad and the ugly. Sometimes, that’s a wonderful thing. Sometimes, it makes me want to pull out my hair.
“This pair is one of the comfiest I’ve tried on so far!” yelled Sophie, adding a thumbs-up for emphasis. These blue booties with their bedazzled detailing were too much for Sophie to resist.
Suddenly, she was as tall as me. For what seemed like the 100th time since I first realized how much she’d sprouted this year, I moaned, “Sophie, you must stop growing!” Although Sophie is still very much a kid at heart, her physical growth has coincided with an increase in self-confidence and assertiveness that occasionally makes her seem older than she is. This is not an unwelcome development. But there’s a part of me that deeply misses my little girl who never seemed older than she was.
“These feel amazing!” Sophie enthused as she sported my red patent leather flats. She was back to her actual height, which I found comforting. While I’ve come to reluctantly accept the likelihood that she will soon be taller than me, she’s not quite there yet. I sighed in relief.
“Oh my god, these are heaven!” declared Sophie, sounding a bit like a grandma. The timing of her comment was perfect. It’s hard for me to reconcile the fact that for the first time in Sophie’s young life, her physical development and her maturity level are showing signs of outpacing her biological age. Yet just as I was morosely contemplating how the door was starting to close on her childhood, her faux-sophisticate phrasing was irresistibly childlike.
“Ooh la la! Did you get these in France?” Sophie giddily asked. When I asked her why she thought I bought my black patent leather peep hole pumps in France, she responded as only a child could. “Because France is so fancy!”
I smiled. There’s definitely still time.
Sophie returned my shoes to the closet, deliriously happy at having tasted a bit of adulthood while walking in the footsteps of her mama. She went to bed, surrounded by her stuffed animals, a child for at least another night.