Monday, 24 September 2012

Capturing Time


Today my daughter turns 10. She rejoices in her new seniority. I lament her ebbing childhood. Once birthday lists contained dolls clothes and magic wands. Now she requests Hollister hoodies and an iPod Touch.

We get out the albums and watch her morph over the pages from a blurred foetus to a lanky schoolgirl.

She questions me closely about the forgotten years. For her, the mop-haired toddler is a stranger. For me, sometimes, it's the tall pre-teen beside me, who is unfamiliar. In my mind's eye, she is small enough to lie on my lap and biddable enough to stay there. In clothes shops I unthinkingly head for garments that are five years too small. In reality she is big enough to borrow my shoes and cool enough to lament my sober heels.

I regret now all those years I wished her older so that I might gain quiet nights, civilised meals and the luxurious liberation of school days. I'm worried that I didn't make the most of what I had, while I had it. And I'm nervous, as she poses in her hoodie, of the teenage struggles to come.

But then there is sudden activity on the landing. Pandas sprawl across the carpet. Elephants block my bedroom door. My shoe boxes are pressed into service as thrones and my tweenager, hot with zeal, distributes invites to a teddy bear coronation.

And I realise, as her favourite bear receives royal medals, that she is still my little girl and that however much the years change her, there's a lifetime left to make the most.



16 comments:

  1. It seems like 13 months have flown by, hope the time slows down a little. It is those tiny things they do that remind us of the little people they once were though. Beautifully written x

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    1. Thank you. Time is definitely speeding up. Almost as soon as I get up in the morning it's time for bed again and as soon as I get to bed the alarm goes...!

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  2. Yay, I love it when my 10 year old (and sometimes my 12 year old too - ssssh!) gets all the teddies out and plays 'zoos' or even resurrects the discarded dollies! They have a lifetime of growing up, let's allow them to stay 'young' for as long as possible. Hope she had a lovely birthday :)

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    1. She did, thanks. I'm 43 and still love teddies, treasure hunts and tree climbing so I don't see why kids have to grow up so quickly.

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  3. Well put. I remember this exact feeling when my triplet daughters turned 10 and there were no toys on any of their birthday lists. A kind of grief set in as I realised their childhood was ending. During the next few years the toys receded and the house filled with books and musical instruments. A different kind of fun.

    With my son, 10, I'm sure his dad and I will disagree again about whether he's allowed yet more Lego this year, when he already has so much. And I'll argue that childhood is over soon enough as it is, and say yes! I'm grateful it's still on his birthday list.

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  4. I also find myself looking towards the baby clothes and then marveling at how quickly that department became obsolete to our needs. what will I do when one raspy kiss on her tummy won't be enough to make her deliriously happy? We're getting very near that time.

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    1. There are always alternatives. Instead of a raspy tummy kiss a £150 iPod will do the trick when she's older!

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  5. Of course there is! That whole time between 9- 13, for girls, is a funny old time from bridging the path way from girl to teenager, from teddies to hoodies. Little A is two and a half and already picking out the clothes she likes (in Next!). I hear your lament though - I know I will feel the same as you one day. Happy birthday to your daughter!

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    1. Thank you. Was just reading the blog of a sleepless mother of a toddler and realised that I should beware of too much nostalgia!

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  6. Lovely post! I thought that she would be in there somewhere! Maybe I should appreciate the sleepless nights. They won't last forever! :o) x

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  7. You've made me determined to make more of the time with my toddler and stop looking forward to the end of witching hour each day when I can have a moment to myself. You've also made me want to get my old teddies out. Happy Birthday to the tweenager - I wonder how many times she's heard, "Ooh, 10? Double figures!" today?!

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  8. I think, every parent goes through this 'mourning' stage but in my experience as a father of 3 girls, it is so hard to take when you see the photographs of the little, sweet innocent child turn into the pouting, make-up wearing young women that replace them. I am so very proud of all of my girls but I often find myself yearning to go back to the cuddles on the sofa watching Dr. Who when she would get scared and grip my hand harder. Enjoy the few times that you still have with the toys as they will rapidly start to decline and so my advice is to snap away with the camera while you can!

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