Baby, you’re a big girl nowPosted: March 6, 2013
In a couple weeks’ time, I will be ironing a navy blue pinafore and a crisp white Peter Pan collar blouse and hanging them in your closet in preparation for your first day of kindergarten. I will be cutting the price tags off of your new backpack and lunchbox, filling the latter with sensible snacks and a note reading, “So proud of you! See you soon!” I will update my Facebook stream with an ironic comment that will mask how I really feel. I will then try to sleep… but instead, I will remember.
I will remember the day you were born, the relief I felt as your took your first breath. I will remember your big brother, 3 years old, greeting you for the first time with “Let’s see the baby! Hello, baby!”
I will remember nursing you, your dimpled hand keeping time to the rhythm of your suckling, open-close, open-close. The feeling of pins and needles as the milk first lets down, a sensation I still feel sometimes when I hear a baby crying. I will remember frightening my bachelor coworkers with the alarming amount of breastmilk in the kitchen freezer.
I will remember your little temper tantrums, how thick your eyelashes would look when weighed down by your tears, how red your little face got as you berated a non-compliant world. I will remember you going through nursery schools like most kids go through shoe sizes, your need for understanding proving too much for the average caregiver again and again.
The little-girl years will rush through my memory’s slideshow, as quickly and as breathlessly as they felt in real-time. A flash of you squealing at the ocean as the waves nipped at your heels, your sticky cotton candy kisses at the county fair, you hugging your brother after his basketball victories, your startled delight when you swung across the monkey bars for the first time.
Little one, you are willful, you reject criticism, you are bossy. All these qualities that made you so hard to raise will really come in handy one day, not just in the boardroom, but in the playground. I hope you will apply your spiritual force field towards the bullies too, not just the hapless grown-ups.
Soon enough, your pigtails will bounce alongside your brother’s cowlick on the way to school. Will you run ahead of us to play with your classmates, or will you cling to our sides? Will you greet your teacher, or will you pull your “bristly-shy” routine and refuse eye contact? I will see you line up with your classmates and walk down the hall to your room. As my vision mists over, I will whisper a prayer into the wind that your teacher has had experience with girls like you before, that she will weave her way through your labyrinth and come to revel, as I do, in your whimsy, imagination, and love.
On the walk back home, I will rest my head your daddy’s shoulder and squeeze his hand. I’ll kiss him and open my eyes, and find us placing a lei around your neck at your high school graduation. After fumbling with my handkerchief, I will suddenly be watching you present your PhD thesis defense on counterintelligence nanotechnology. Someone will call my name, and as I turn my head, I will find myself rocking your daughter to sleep, setting her down into her cradle, then walking over to where you are in bed, presenting you with some s’mores and a magazine. The phone will ring, and on the other end will be you, complaining about how bossy and incorrigible my granddaughter is, and can I believe she got kicked out of her third preschool, and I will laugh until I cry.
Julie Kang is a Korean American parenting blogger in Long Beach, CA. She currently writes for VaginaCon.com, the Kimchi Mamas, and her personal blog, Geisha School Dropout.