Monday, 24 September 2012
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.