I don't typically blast out my kids birthdays on my blog because, let's face it, who really cares. But this post isn't so much about a birthday as it is about the fact that there's this crazy thing that happens after your kid turns five and goes to kindergarten and then turns six and you notice all these changes, and some are big and others small, and is this happening at your house too????
Alex was my first child, often lovingly referred to (by me) as my "original" baby. She came just when I needed her most, and we've been a dynamic duo ever since (well, trio if you count her really cute lil sister). She has promised me that that we can live together forever and ever and I've promised her that I have never loved anyone as much as I love her and her sister. My feelings are 100 percent truth, and in all honesty, if things keep going this way, she may actually live up to her promise also.
Bottom line - she's an extraordinary kid and oh-so-loving. Which works out for me.
But in the last year, in between the tulips and butterflies and rainbows, there have been moments of OHMYGODWHOSEKIDISTHAT and I blame kindergarten.
A month or two ago, my not-quite-six-year-old came home and told me that two kids in her class were going on a date.
"A date?" I asked, keeping my voice even even if I was half in shock. "What's a date?"
"It's when a boy and a girl get together at night."
"What do they do on a date? What's the difference between a date and a playdate?" I was scared to hear what was next.
"The kids go out to a restaurant and eat dinner - a boy and a girl." I pressed her for more. "That's all I got," she said (for real). "But at the end you can kiss on the lips."
"Oh, and I forgot - you don't sit next to each other, you sit across from each other so you can look at each other."
I was totally appalled and not at all ready for this but the part of me that appreciates irony entertained the conversation. "They go out to eat? Who drives? Who orders? Neither kid can read! WHO PAYS!!!???"
We laughed. Because seriously, the whole thing was ridiculous.
Then the other day she came home from a playdate (with a girl) and proceeded to define "sexy" for me.
"It means stylish and pretty, mom," she told me like I'm an idiot.
While she wasn't wrong in her description, my heart sank. My sweet little six year old, my Spongebob Squarepants loving daughter who can't sleep unless I cuddle with her and still comes into my bed in the middle of the night several times a month - she was explaining what sexy means.
There's nothing to be done. As proof, we were listening to a popular morning show on the radio a few months ago and the word slut was being tossed around as casually as the forecast and before I could switch it (or even noticed), a little voice from the backseat says to me, "Mommy, what's a slut?"
I wasn't going there.
No matter how hard we try to shield our kids from the overly sexualized, less gentle world than my generation grew up in (and that's not saying much), it's just not possible. And I don't blame those kids who are teaching her these things prematurely. They're good kids who are learning from older siblings who have friends with older siblings.
So now she's six and in a few months she'll go to first grade and the social scene will only become more intense with each year. And each year, I'll lose a little more of the control that I struggle to hold on to due to the simple fact that I let her out into the world. And she'll lose a little more of that beautiful innocence that I wish she could possess forever.
So here's the plan. I'm going to do everything I can to instill decent values in my kids while they're under my roof. So with work and school and stuff, that leaves about two hours a day, plus weekends, to make my mark. I think it's going ok. They don't curse (Mommy! That's a BAAADDDD word!) and they know when they're saying something I won't like. They have nice table manners, say please and thank you, and other parents tell me that my girls are a pleasure to have in their homes. I'm sure they'll be privy to pretty much everything within the next few years, but I'll do whatever I can to protect those little people so they grow up to be big people who can feel proud to be who they are.
Happy sixth birthday to my delicious little girl...