Tuesday, May 19, 2015
I came downstairs early one morning and my eldest was sitting at the table. I am generally the first one up and if it weren't me up first, it certainly wouldn't be Avery. That mixed with the stern look on her face had me concerned. It was a look that someone has before they tell you how disappointed they are in you; it was both too early in the morning and in my parenting career for such a look.
"Daddy, we need to talk."
Maybe it was lack of coffee, maybe it was lack of sleep, but my seven year old's single sentence had a weird effect. Her life flashed in front of my eyes; from the moment she was born to proms she hadn't yet attended. I sat across from her at the table with a poker face re-situated.
"What is it, Avery?"
"I can either have earrings or a cellphone, but you can decide."
I felt like I had a stay of execution from not having a "where babies come from" conversation. We were in an arena where I could hold my own. Sure, I appreciate the salesmanship of her. Not asking a 'yes' or 'no' question, smart. You've got to admire the moxie, too. Getting up early, the planning, the onions it took to have the have the confrontation. Honestly, I was full of pride and respect for this little girl. Less a chip off of my block than she was my wife's but still, it took stones to to sit there across from me. Good for her.
I smiled at her.
"No, what?" she asked surprised.
"No to everything. No cellphone, no earrings. Neither, sweetheart."
It sounds cold, I'm sure, but Avery lives in absolutes. Any 'maybe' leaves a door cracked, and any cracked door is basically open. My wife is the same way. I've had a decade and a half to learn that lesson. The secret is not jsut the absolute, but the olive branch that goes with it.
"How about your nails. What if you got to get your nails painted?"
Nail polish was a treasure to her and terrified me. It reminded me that seven would one day be seventeen.
"Fingers and toes?"
"Yes, monkey. fingers and toes."
She smiled the smile of victory. She'd won. 'Good for her', I thought as I dropped a couple of waffles in the toaster. I could live with it. It's important that she gets to have these wins, but it's equally important that she not grow up too fast. Cell phones and earrings. Those are big steps little girl. There will be plenty of time for cellphones and earrings and dating and drivers licenses. Life is a marathon not a sprint. Don't just stop and smell the roses, sweetheart, roll around in them. You will always be my little girl, Monkey, but stay a little girl for you, too.