Twelve. Twelve years old. This is the last year my oldest daughter, my first baby, will be a little girl (for all that I get to call her that). Next year she will be a teenager. You can already see the grown-uppish-ness peeking around the corner. My Gracie-girl is all awkward angles and in-betweens right now. It’s beautiful and heart-stopping watching an Emerging Person peek out from the Little Kid that my Gracie is leaving behind. Not that it’s without growing pains. But my gosh, Gracie – you are doing just fine, sweetheart. I am so proud of you!
As is tradition, I’ve captured just a few things that Gracie loves, and a few she hates, in an effort to help me remember her just as she is in this moment. Any parent of grown kids will tell you it all happens in an instant, and even those memories you think you couldn’t possibly forget ever could be gone in an instant. Memories and ghosts of children past are tricky that way.
[Good lord, I’m dramatic and weepy this morning. Anniversaries of becoming a parent! will do that to you, I suppose.]
10 Things Gracie-Girl Loves So Much She Would Get Up Early For Them (For Serious).
- Texting. Gracie was given cell phone privileges this year is quasi-middle school, and she lurves to text anyone and everyone. She will hold hour-long convos with me, from the next room even, if it means she can text them out. (I like to let her sometimes, because how much longer is she going to think I’m worthy?)
- When she’s my ally. Gracie-girl is walking that tightrope now between wanting to establish herself apart from the parentals, and wanting to be my right-hand man, still. She likes being in on the joke, on the secret, on the power and the glory. Unless she has something better to do. Still – I think Gracie’s leanings towards wanting to be a benevolent dictator mean I can use this to my advantage for a few years yet.
- Her sister. I love that Gracie and Bee have verrrrry subtly become closer over the past year. They’ll collude against me, join forces as The Big Kids whenever X-man is afoot, or create elaborate schemes to “play” on the weekends. Listening to them talk a mile a minute to each other after school (now that they’re in separate schools and don’t know each other’s goings on) warms my heart each and every time it happens. I’m not making a final prediction yet, but I think those two are gonna be alright.
- Obsessing over her latest Netflix show. Grey’s Anatomy. Bones. Her YouTube shows. HGTV. Fuller House. Gracie will pick a show and watch it non. stop. No, really – she gets honestly upset if you suggest four shows in a row were enough. Ugh.
- Primping. My child who would sleep until noon if I let her will voluntarily get up 30 minutes early to straighten her mostly-straight-anyways hair. She will straighten her eyebrows for hours. Apply lotion (that she obsessed over purchasing from Bath & Body Works, god help me). I still don’t worry about my kid becoming too vain because she would wear the same sweatshirt every day if I let her and could really care less about choosing an outfit. But the signs are there, god help us. A bona fide teenager is lurking around the corner.
- Showing off. I’m not one to throw stones in glass houses here. She uses it for good (smacking the pants off anyone at trivia) and evil (constantly one-upping her sister or proving she’s better, somehow), but she needs to do it. And getting her to quit it while her feelings are so delicate is not so easy!
- Music.ly. So the newest trend right now is creating music videos with an online app that lets you pick a song and then record yourself dancing or lip-syncing. Both girls are obsessed. And I am delighted! So much blackmail material! And hilarious moments. And peeks into their wickedly creative brains.
- Her geek flag. Gracie flies it loud and proud! She loves Dr. Who, Harry Potter, and all manner of sci-fi series and books. She loves being a math whiz. She proudly announced at dinner the other night that her career quiz found that she should be an engineer, an anthropologist, or a criminal investigator. I love that my girlie is so proud of who she is, because ain’t no way it’s changing…
- Quesadillas. Ohmygod, every “easy meal” I’ve made Gracie fend for on her own, the kid has made cheese quesadillas. Sometimes she’s too hungry and she’ll just zap a few in the microwave to melt the cheese. Other times she’ll get out the frying pan and toast some on the stove, now that she has free reign in the kitchen. The girl is straight up addicted.
- Having her own room. When Jeff and the X-man moved in, we had to make room somehow. And rather than deconstruct my entire guest room/craft room to accommodate a four-year-old who doesn’t know to not touch things, we moved Gracie into the guest room, and Bee and the X-man bunk together every other weekend. Otherwise, the girls essentially have their own rooms. They’re getting along better, for one. But also, we discovered that Gracie likes to nest. She’ll create little hidey holes in her room and watch videos or do god knows what. She loves having a place to retreat to when the rest of the world is pressing in on her and her tweenaged feelings. Bless her.
10 Things Gracie-Girl Hates So Much, She’d Sacrifice Bedtime To Avoid Them (For Serious.)
- Loud clothes. The girl picked out 10 different tshirts in various shades of grey this past spring. I suggested prints or colors and was met with such whining and “GOD, MOM!!!”s at the very suggestion. I maybe was a bit smug when she didn’t have anything blue to wear for spirit day the other day. Hmpf.
- When I’m her mom. For all that Gracie loves being my ally, my confidante, my right-hand man, she hates when she is reminded that I am, in fact, the mom. Her mom. And what I say goes, even if she doesn’t like it.
- Her sister. Are you noticing a pattern? That Gracie loves and hates many of the same things? Poor pitiful tweenaged puppy. Yes, her relationship with her sister fits into that category, too. For all that they love hanging out together, there are times when I threaten to send them to bed hours early if they can’t stop arguing, or being mean, or teasing each other. “Be KIND,” I’m always telling Gracie. I don’t think she necessarily means it, half the time; I just think she’s twelve.
- Newborns. It’s weird – Gracie loves kids. She loves her niece and other little babies we’ve welcomed into our extended circle recently. She bubbles over each one and begs to visit. But will she hold the baby? No way!! Not her niece several years ago, and not a single newborn this past year. I asked her why and she was at a loss.
- Being read to. We still read a chapter each night out loud as a family. We recently finished Ready Player One and have just started The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Gracie complains – loudly – each and every night. She yells any time I suggest an extra chapter (while her sister cheers me on), and yet… for all the complaining, she loves having finished the book and doesn’t exactly look like she’s having the worst time ever. I chalk it up to being with and against everything on principle these days.
- Being known or being invisible. Another one for our poor girl stuck in the land of in-betweens. Heaven help you if you act in front of Gracie like you know her (“I do NOT like Tay-Tay!”), or if get something wrong about her (“How could you not know that?!”) At least my pretty, pretty tweenager isn’t bottling all of her feelings inside? Eesh.
- Being coordinated. Gracie trips over her own feet. Bangs her toes/foot/knee/fingers against objects that I swear aren’t even there. Falls down for no reason. Yep, my baby’s a klutz.
- Running errands. Heaven help me if I actually make Gracie come to the store with me or suggest stopping somewhere on the way back from somewhere else. Once she was allowed to stay home alone, she thought she was exempt from having to go anywhere she didn’t want to. And hoo boy are the fights fun when she’s reminded that she’s not actually in charge.
- Bedtime. It wouldn’t matter if I told her she had to go to bed at midnight – my baby girl is a night owl who things imposed bedtimes are for whimps. I have to say I do like knowing her currency; it makes it easy when I have to threaten a punishment to wave going to bed early in front of her face. Compliance happens pretty quickly!
- The awkwardness of in-between. Navigating all of this isn’t easy. Gracie-girl feels it most acutely some days. She wants so desperately to establish herself as her own person and to distance herself from me and from the family. But the ways she chooses to do that, like with hurtful words, make her feel horrible when she sees the fallout. Growing up isn’t easy, and she hates it.
Aw, Gracie. I love all of it. All of the things that make you YOU. Even when you make me yell and gnash my teeth and wonder how in the world the two of us are going to survive, I still love every single tiny thing about you. I wouldn’t change a thing. …Except maybe if you could pick up your room from time to time. That would be awesome.