Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Growing Up Fast

I've never been the type of parent who mourns the lost babyhood of her progeny. While it's true that I love children of all ages, and each stage of their growth has its own unique pleasure, it's always been with teenagers that I've felt most comfortable. They're so bright, interesting and full of opinions. Granted, not all opinions held by the teenagers who have frequented my domain have been equally welcome, but it remains true that they are all pretty interesting. So, while it's fun going through each stage with my children, I've always awaited the next stage with eagerness.

As I've mentioned before, my youngest daughter will be twelve very soon.


This hardly seems possible. My eldest daughter just turned 24, my middle 19, and while it's true that I find myself marveling the fact that they are indeed adults, this last one . . . well, it's just different. She seems so much younger at this age than my other girls, although in reality she's clearly much older. More precocious. More worldly. I have a friend who has taught elementary aged children for over 20 years now. She says that she can tell the moment a child enters her classroom whether that child is an eldest or a youngest. The eldest child of a family often is just as a child should be. Naive, unaware and childlike. Those children born last? The babies of the family? Well, let's just say if they swept into their first grade classroom wearing a smoking jacket, swilling a martini, and magnanimously offering dating advice gained from watching elder siblings, no one would be surprised.

I know all of this. I also know my daughter. That's why it's a bit of a puzzle how thrown I was by my "baby" this weekend.

Scene: Local fire station. A birthday party. One that, after having received the invitation, my daughter declared would probably be lame. The party that she thought she might be a bit "too old" for at the ripe old age of nearly 12. I expected my daughter to be excited when we picked her up since we were headed to a close friend's house to play with their new puppy. What I didn't expect was her mile-a-minute chatter about the party at the fire station. Thrilled that she was able to transcend her blase' attitude, be a child and enjoy the party, I started to ask questions about what they'd seen and done. Sure she had a detail or two about the fire trucks, the work the firefighters did, etc. but would you like to know what most of her animated discussion was about?

Well, let's just say that while she was definitely interested in and admiring of the work firefighters do, she was equally enamored of how they looked doing it. (Not to mention trying to figure out a way to set one up with either of her older sisters). As I said earlier, I was a bit thrown. Why I was is beyond me. This is the girl who at 4, looking a gift given (not by me or my husband) to her oldest sister (then 16), a calendar entitled"The Men of Hawaii", casually declared how "hot" several men were. After stern looks at her older sister for not being a bit more careful with her dialogue around her baby sister, I corrected my 4 year old told her that the men should more correctly be termed "attractive", "happy", "healthy" and "handsome". She nodded solemnly and said "You're right, mommy. They are certainly handsome." She then paused for a long moment before adding matter of factly "And they're hot too." Apparently that logic applies not only to the men of Hawaii, but also to firefighters.

Growing up a bit too fast? Yeah, maybe.

But then again . . .
Who can argue with her?


countrymouse said...

My middle child didn't know--and I'm serious, this isn't made up--what the "f word" actually meant until she was nearly 16.

Clearly, not being the youngest and being sheltered unto smotheration comes with its share of problems as well . . .

Becca said...


I'M not going to argue.

THAT'S for sure.

Angie said...

Oh Mary, LOL! The kid is right. What can you say? Hilarious.