Nine Going on 19-But Still My Baby Girl by Dina Ramon
What does age 9 look, sound and act like? My daughter just celebrated a birthday, will be walking into her fourth grade class for the first time tomorrow, and has changed in so many ways… but in others not so much. My baby girl is still in there but with layers of expressions and personality traits she often springs on me unexpectedly that make it clear she is inching ever closer to teen time. So what does 9 look like? For one, nine means my daughter takes longer to get ready than I do. She lingers for long stretches in front of the mirror styling, and re-styling her hair, brushing her teeth and just posing. Nine means gymnastics is her obsession; cartwheels and handstands in the living room, on the sidewalk, always focused on perfecting her form. It’s a thrill for her to watch others compete and to read the stories of past and present Olympic gymnasts. Nine means the best babysitters are high school girls who share their makeup, give my daughter swimming lessons, and teach her new dance moves. I feel a piece of my heart break off every time she gets excited for me to go out so the babysitter can come over. Nine means my daughter has no interest whatsoever in what I want her to wear; her style preferences are specific and unwavering; where they come from I am not really sure. So I just sigh when I look at the barely worn outfits in her closet that she’s lost interest in and ever in denial, tell myself she will wear them one of these days instead of packing them up for Goodwill like I should. Being nine means that making videos of her American Girl doll and supporting cast of stuffed animal friends is super cool to do. So are self-portraits of her hairstyles and herself making faces. But when I want to take a picture of her, i.e., the first day of school, I have to plead to get her to smile instead of looking annoyed. It reminds me of myself at that age, and pictures my own parents took of me and my brother where I look….annoyed. Nine means I can’t assume my daughter will automatically reach for my hand when we cross the street; I have to grab hers as we step off the curb. Which makes me wonder when I will no longer feel the need to do so? But then when I least expect it, she will melt my heart by letting me hold her hand as we walk down the street or through the Mall. I can only hope that lasts for as many more birthdays as possible. So if you have a girl who is approaching 9, these are some things you might expect; along with all of the wonderful experiences and moments that we are blessed with as we watch our children grow up. But even at age 9, I’m still her mommy who she comes to for advice, who she expects to be there watching her gymnastics and tennis classes, who she expects to see after school every day, and who sits at the foot of her bed every night until she falls asleep.