Little Miss Grown Up—by Jamie Levine
Last week at school, I told a funny story about Jayda to some of my fellow graduate students (all of whom are 15-20 years younger than me) and one of them remarked, “you and your daughter seem really close…it’s almost as if you treat her like an adult sometimes.” She said this in a positive way, meaning that I don’t talk down to Jayda, and that I expose her to a lot of mature vocabulary words and experiences. Then, a few days later, a mommy-friend of mine confided in me that she talked to her daughter (who is Jayda’s friend) like she was “a grown up” sometimes, and wasn’t sure whether it was appropriate or not. I remarked that I often do the same thing—but only moments later, I’m often reminded that my kid is just a little kid. Jayda, like so many young girls these days, is growing up faster than I did at her age…but she’s still almost-five—and not fifteen—and I need to remember that. Fortunately, more often than not, Jayda inadvertently reminds me of this fact, herself.
For instance, my daughter has recently developed an obsession with Justin Bieber. After hearing his name mentioned by her classmates at school for months and not really caring about him, Jayda noticed his movie, “Never Say Never” on Netflix and begged me to let her watch it. We viewed it together…and she continued to watch it at least 25 times by herself over the next few weeks. Jayda now knows every line to Justin’s songs—as well as every scene in the movie by heart. One night, when I was trying to coax Jayda into falling asleep, she remarked, “I can’t go to sleep! All I keep thinking about is Justin Bieber!” It reminded me of my own childhood obsession with Shaun Cassidy; however, my teen idol adoration began when I was almost twice Jayda’s age. At five, I was more obsessed with the Cookie Monster. And while I admit hearing my kid keep saying “I loooooove Justin Beiber—he’s the best” sometimes makes me laugh out loud…it’s also a bit disturbing.
The other day, Jayda informed me that she “had to have” a poster of Justin in her room. She repeated her request for days, so I finally relented one morning and sat in front of the computer with her so she could pick out the print she wanted to order. At the same time, I informed her that “today is Justin’s birthday!” Jayda responded with great enthusiasm; then she got serious and asked “can we call him and sing to him?” That was my reminder that Jayda really is still a little kid—and not the adolescent she sometimes appears to be.
Similarly, the other day after Jayda had sat mesmerized by two back-to-back episodes of the pre-teen Nickelodeon hit, “Victorious,” I changed the channel and Jayda squealed with delight, “Franklin’s on! I love Franklin!” Huh? She shifted from pre-teen to pre-K all in a matter of minutes.
Mature-beyond-her-years Jayda often asks me when I’m going to get a new boyfriend, and if I ever seem upset, gets all serious reminiscing about Library Guy and wondering, “Mommy—are you still sad that he broke up with you? Remember when I cheered you up afterwards? Let me know if you need me to do it again.” When I respond by telling her, “Mommy is just FINE without a boyfriend…but maybe some day I’ll find a really, really great guy whom we both love, and he can be my new boyfriend,” she goes off on tangents about the two of us both marrying princes and living happily-ever-after. Yet again, the carefree five-year-old girl pops out after the wise teenager has made an appearance.
That said, I never take Jayda’s age for granted—meaning I don’t confide inappropriate things to her, or imagine that we’re best friends like the Gilmore Girls. But I do sometimes marvel at how grown up she can act. And then I embrace the not-yet-five-year-old cuddles, kooky comments, and squeals of delight Jayda often shares with me. Just the other night, Jayda started telling me an anecdote, and began her monologue with: “remember a loooong time ago when I was three…?” and I chuckled. Before I know it, Jayda at three will have been a long time ago, and my little girl really will be all grown up. I certainly don’t want to rush a single moment before then.