This morning, Annie asked me what superpower I would choose if I could choose any power from the infinite store of superpowers in the universe (okay, she might not have said it exactly like that).
Me: I would choose the power to keep you my little girl forever and ever.
Annie (indignant and annoyed): No! You have to choose a power that will SAVE THE WORLD!
Ah, details, details.
Of course, she was right. Pretty selfish of me to muddy up my one chance to dramatically alter the course of the universe with my own petty, small feelings. But in that moment, as I brushed her hair, braiding her still-growing bangs out of her eyes, it was what I really wanted. Just for that moment.
The other night I proposed getting a special doll for Annie's big Christmas gift. Superdad had his doubts about my decision. He asked, "Does she really need another doll? How much longer do you think she is even going to play with those dolls?"
Something along these lines is what erupted from my mouth:
But that's exactly why she needs a doll for Christmas! Because she's still asking for one! Because she's not asking for a cell phone or an iPod or make up or a belly ring! She still wants A DOLL! She still gets that catalogue and pores over it showing me all the things that would be "so cute" and "so fun" and tells me she is going to ask Santa for that doll because even though she knows she doesn't need another doll she thinks it's okay to ask Santa because that doesn't cost us anything. SHE STILL BELIEVES IN SANTA, for goodness sake! SHE STILL WANTS A DOLL AND NEXT CHRISTMAS THAT MIGHT NOT BE TRUE ANYMORE SO WE ARE GETTING HER A DOLL!
I can't say for certain because it's all a little foggy after that, but I'm pretty sure Superdad responded with,
You are absolutely right, Honey. Get her the doll.
He's not only a super dad, he's a smart husband.
A lot of my writing this past year has focused on our eldest child leaving home and going to college and it's true there has been a lot of letting go involved in that process. But, truth be told, a lot of letting go had already happened long before we got to the final launch.
I'm sure every parent has different weak points. Maybe you crumble a little seeing your baby grow into a walking, talking toddler. Maybe it's that first day of Kindergarten. Maybe it's their first real dance or getting their driver's license. Maybe it's their first summer sleep-away camp. Most of those were pretty easy for me. Sure there was wistfulness or maybe even concern for their well-being, but none of those things brought me to the moment of truth. That moment when you know you have to let go and yet all you want to do is to hold on tight.
I'm realizing that for me that moment isn't a moment at all. It happens over days and weeks and months. It is that imperceptible line that separates little kids from big kids. It is the point you realize they don't get out their toys anymore. That vague realization that you don't hear them talking to themselves in their rooms anymore pretending to be...something. When you notice that prized Captain Hook doll never comes out of the toy box anymore. The costume box sits undisturbed and in place of cars and dinosaurs and dolls strewn about, there are sports shoes and hand held electronics and garbage from that late night snack.
I love my big kids. I truly enjoy many, many things about having teenagers. And I will enjoy Annie as a big kid and teenager, too. I will. But I will feel a little sad when she is done with dolls and stuffed animals and her beloved Dog Academy figurine set.
The hard truth is, there have been too many reminders for me in this past year that to see your children grow up is nothing short of an incredible privilege and blessing. To wish it to be otherwise is forgetting what that would really mean. So, I do not really wish for the power to keep my girl a little girl forever.
But I will enjoy it while it lasts.
And she IS getting a doll for Christmas.