Amara had 12 teeth by the time she turned one, and according to her dentist, “if you get them in early, you lose them early.” So I shouldn’t be surprised that, a few months after turning five, she already has four loose teeth. I suppose I am not so much surprised as I am unwilling to accept it. Do you know what this means? My first born is proving, now physically, that she’s no longer a baby. She’s growing up.
I never thought I’d hear myself saying, “No. You don’t want to be an adult. Stay a child as long as possible.” As a child, I always found it funny when adults would say such things. What was so great about childhood? No one gave you choices, you couldn’t stay up late, people had conversations and watched movies that you didn’t understand, you got little respect, all of the adults seemed slightly annoyed by your presence, the other children were bullies, and it would be eons before you were allowed to drive!
I also realize that most parents are trying to give their children a better life, a better childhood, than they had. I treat my daughters with as much respect as I can muster, I’ve pretty much let them set their own bedtime, they are allotted choices whenever possible, and if I am annoyed with them I try to explain why while insisting that I love them in spite of their quirks. I teach my daughters as much about driving as they beg to learn without allowing them behind the wheel, and I do my best to prepare them to stay strong and noble even when confronted by children who make bad choices.
Though I am trying to make their childhoods enjoyable I do not want to do them the disservice of not preparing them for adult life. Without burdening them about the family finances I explain why I pay bills. Without demanding their participation I encourage them to assist me with the upkeep of the house. When I have an assignment due, I show them my enthusiasm for and dedication to my work. When they say, “I want a baby inside my belly too!” I say, “No you don’t. You want to have a LOT of fun first. Enjoy your childhood.”
My little girls are growing up. There’s no scientific process to stop this, and from the ever-demanding world of adulthood I want to put the brakes on for them and clear their heads of glorified growth. It’s not that wonderful, being an adult. I cannot say that it’s not wonderful being a mother, that’d be callous, but it certainly has its less-than-peachy moments. I know I have to come to terms with this part of having children, that one day their childhoods will be over. For now though, I’m going let it linger, one small baby tooth at a time.