My Baby Girl is eleven.
It’s that odd age that isn’t quite a teenager, but definitely isn’t a child. Throw in her much-higher-than-average intelligence and her love of playing dress-up, and we’ve got the epitome of eleven: A little bit of everything tossed into a blender.
When I was eleven, I was obsessed with clothes, boys, and autobiographies (Helen Keller and Anne Frank were favorites – girls who had it worse than I did, but kept a positive attitude). I collected pictures and posters of The Karate Kid actor Ralph Macchio. I had my best friends, wrote a lot, and practiced the saxophone every day.
Rhiannon also loves clothes, boys, and books, although she tends to place graphic novels higher on her list than I did. (She is, however, currently reading I Am Malala, you know, that autobiography about a girl who had it worse than Rhiannon, but still keeps a positive attitude…). Luckily, she has much better taste than I and only collects pictures and posters of Doctor Who. She has a great set of friends, writes a lot, and practices piano nearly every day.
I’m glad that I had the experiences I did so that I can help her on this wacky preteen journey, because it isn’t easy. Frankly, I found it to be much worse than high school, which was not so bad because I was determined to be accepted for being myself, even if I wasn’t exactly sure who she was. That determination made me bolder and able to speak my mind. I might have been better at being a teen than I am at being an adult, come to think of it…I hope I can pass that odd teenage (outward) confidence down to her as well. Fake it ’til you make it actually works.
I love that she’s sensitive and thoughtful and kind of a nerd. I’m glad that, like I was at eleven, she isn’t in a hurry to grow up. She wants to take that slowly. She still plays with dolls occasionally, has way too many stuffed animals in her room, and doesn’t care if her socks match or not. She slouches unless she’s playing piano, she talks too quickly (and sometimes too loudly), gets too much electronics time, and is nervous about things like driving, even though it’s years away. I’m okay with her wanting to hold off, even though I’m a little sad that she inherited my anxiety about things that aren’t even real.
When I checked in with her tonight and looked at her sleeping face, I could still see the baby there. I know that’s slipping away and eventually that face might disappear, but for now I can still visit it.
And she’ll always be my Baby Girl. My Pooka.