Miss11goingon16 is growing up fast. And I know we lament that time goes so quickly and the next thing you turn around and they’re married with children. But seriously. I’m not at this stage talking about the precocious “mouth from the south” (expression we use in Africa) but the actual physical and mental long-limbed grown-up-ness of my first baby. As my second baby (she would shriek with indignation at this description as she is a big girl at – 8 years old after all) is still quite soft and squishy and needs me alot, I have started the mental process of realising that Miss11goingon16 is her own person, with her own opinions and a strength of character that I sometimes bemoan but which is no surprise to me considering her genetics.
In her last year at primary school, she’s a big fish in a small pond. She struts her stuff and often leaves her little sister trailing behind her at the school drop off. Gone are the days when it was okay to walk in with a sibling – the übercool Miss11goingon16 is having none of that. Sometimes my heart breaks at the cruelty, but thinking back, I remember being that girl and the sense of self-importance that Year 6 automatically bestowed upon a person.
At pick-up I watch her peers – she behaves no differently. On the way home I get the daily run down of “who is with who”. With in the sense of a label saying “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”. The physicalities of relationships have yet to rear their ugly head – I’m going to stick my head in the sand on that one and hope that that saga is saved for the next time she’s a big fish – yes, Year 12! (a mother can dream)
Helpful to landing that hovering helicopter that is parenting is the compulsory school camps. You let your child go with people you don’t really know, to a place you are unfamiliar with, to sleep in accommodation you haven’t vetted and be fed food they may not eat. I took it a step further and allowed Miss11goingon16 to pack her own bag with the help of the school list. I didn’t check to see whether the required underpants, t-shirts (not singlets) and pajamas had been packed. I just loaded the bag into the car and attached the sleeping bag. With my heart in my mouth I waved the bus goodbye. Would she be warm enough? (Yes, the temperature doesn’t drop below 23 degrees in Sydney in February). Did she have tissues? (2 packs as it turned out). And had she packed a bikini instead of the sensible one piece to swim in?
On her return, while she was perfectly capable of packing the bag, unpacking it was more than she could cope with. This could be because she hadn’t slept for 3 days – apparently it is also übercool to stay awake all night at camp. A one-off dump of EVERYTHING into the laundry basket sufficed and the bits and bobs stayed in the bag, until Sunday morning when I went to make sense of her room (she was out and I had watched a program on the Bio channel the previous night about people that hoard stuff – so I was in a complete cleaning frenzy). Out came a dirty white t-shirt, the boardshorts, yes – the bikini and then lurking quietly at the bottom of the bag, The Little Pink Bear. That she still sleeps with. My smile stretched to my ears. Not so grown-up after all :).