Birthday fever has begun.
The third grader enters her ninth year in approximately two weeks. Decorations are up, goody bags are ready, menu cards (not sure why we need them but will run with them nevertheless) for invited guests have been hand printed on different colored paper. The gift list gets updated, items closely reviewed and edited
every now and then each day. As if a legal contract is being put in place.
The excitement meter is burning up. For her. The rest of the familia, however, is just too caught up to think about this approaching milestone.
You guys don’t care much about my birthday, do you? she alleges the other evening, her forehead carrying a big frown.
I pretend I am deaf. Her brother, however retorts with a ‘yep’. Without batting an eyelid, without looking up from his iPad.
The frown now becomes more evident as the chin elongates rapidly with frustration. I look at her and I am reminded of Munch’s, The Scream. She stomps out, up the stairs, into her room. Soon I hear scrinch scrinch, sound of paper decoration being unrolled and taped to the walls.
Her frustration is fleeting. It is her birthday and she has no time to waste. The drama can wait.
I am turning nine…and…then I will turn ten next year, she says the other day.
She may as well easily pass off as a ten-year old with her recent growth spurt. She gained height, her feet have grown some inches that prompted us on an unexpected shoe shopping spree. Some other things have grown too.
I now have breasts, she declares, examining her buds. Does that mean I will have my period? she bombards me with this not so pleasant question. A milestone that I am not ready for. At all.
You may sweetie, I tell her. A response that takes a lot of me to muster. More articles I read about how young girls are reaching puberty sooner than ever, I fret. I cry inside.
No amount of talking, reading about period with her will prepare us for this dreaded development. Nothing will get her ready for the changes when they strike. It’s the same as pushing out a baby. Every thing you learn gets unlearned as you begin to anxiously maneuver through the first months of child rearing. All that prep work-.whoosh, go into a black hole, not to be retrieved until one slowly begins to get comfortable with the enormous changes that come along.
It is an inevitability one cannot avoid, unfortunately. Until then, I will pretend to be an ostrich and go about my merry way. I am also aware that years from now when I read this post, I will say, golly, I wrote about THIS? I fretted over a period? There will be bigger issues to tackle, higher walls to climb and vaster oceans to cross. This will seem like a tiny dent in the overall scheme of things.
I don’t want to mix my Indian friends with my American friends, she decides. I don’t want anyone to feel left out. I want to be inclusive.
Inclusive is the buzz word now. One that gets thrown around quite rapidly and frequently. Along with buds and a possibly premature puberty, she is becoming deliciously intelligent. I mean, emotionally intelligent. Sometimes stuff comes out of her mouth that makes me want to put her on a pedestal and show her off to the entire world. My heart filled with gratification and deep, soaring love for this child of mine. At eight, she is already so considerate, kind and empathetic. For someone who is inclined to impose high standards, this isn’t my bias talking. I don’t know what we are doing as parents. Obviously we are doing some things right. We see the right in her and her demeanor.
This morning, as I drop her off at the grandparents, she pretends to walk straight in without kissing me goodbye. I make a long face. She immediately turns around, and with a naughty grin and sparkle in her eyes, she says, and you thought I was walking away without kissing you bye…never mama, NEVER!!!!!!!
I have always maintained that becoming a mom has been undeniably one of the most profound experiences for me. Each baby shifting something deep in me, each underscoring the power and the glory it carries. As I get ready to join my second born in her birthday planning ruckus, I take a quick moment to reflect, rejoice and be grateful of the priceless gift that is her.