It has been happening bit by bit…this change…
My soon to be twelve-year-old daughter has one tentative foot into her adolescence, and one foot still carefully positioned in the land of childhood. Her dirty converse high tops straddle them both, not entirely belonging in either…existing in the in-between.
The metaphor I so readily conjure is that of a butterfly…
The green and gold chrysalis that has housed her – protected her – has now become translucent, allowing a first look inside at the transformed being that is to come. This beautiful creature must soon emerge, becoming more and more constrained within the space that has kept her safe and warm.
She is nearly ready to stretch her wings.
Part of me dreads the impending disconnection between us; my inevitable decline in importance in her world. At the same time I await with great anticipation the young woman she will become.
Who is this butterfly meant to be?
Will she stop and rest for a moment before taking flight? Will she stay close?
Recently I had the opportunity to chaperone a field trip with her fifth grade class. She told me it would be nice if I came, but it would also be fine if I didn’t.
(One foot in, one foot out).
We didn’t have to leave for a couple of hours to where we’d meet her class, so we ventured to the beach to let the beast (that is, our labrador retriever) romp. I smiled as I watched her run with the same look of wild abandon as the dog, freed from the constraints of his leash. She flew..head back, wild hair…entirely unaffected by the presence of other beach goers. Thinking of my own insanely insecure adolescent years, I wondered if she’ll stay this way.
I hoped so.
Once worn out, she sidled up beside me. It was a beautiful, but crisp, late spring morning; I had my hands tucked into my jacket pockets for warmth. As we walked she slipped her hand…still so small…into my pocket, intertwining her fingers with mine.
We walked that way for a while, the two of us sharing a warm pocket.
Soon it was time for the field trip. It was the first one I had been on in a couple of years, and I marveled at them all – this group of children – all so different, yet so connected. They are at that awkward age where most of the girls tower over the boys. They moved like a giggly, beautifully awkward amoeba.
As we meandered along, I kept my distance like a good mom who-was-allowed-to-come-but-it’s-okay-if-she-didn’t. I watched as my daughter flitted along with her friends, free and happy. At one point I was surprised to find her walking along beside me.
(I presume, just by habit) she slid her hand into mine. Squeezing it, I looked down at her and smiled. Suddenly self-conscious, she offered a quick grin and let go, running ahead to join her friends.
As she should.
I will always have a warm pocket…when she needs one.