Six Going on Sixteen—by Jamie Levine

The other afternoon, when I picked up my daughter, Jayda, from aftercare at her elementary school, one of her friends approached me and asked, “Does Jayda’s daddy have blonde hair, too?”
I easily responded, “Jayda doesn’t have a daddy. She gets her blonde hair from me.”
“What do you mean, ‘Jayda doesn’t have a daddy?’” the little girl asked emphatically.
“We simply don’t have a daddy in our family…” I replied patiently. And Jayda exclaimed, “My mommy never met the right guy!” I couldn’t help but smile, and reassure Jayda that “yes, that’s true…”
I’m not sure Jayda’s friend understood what Jayda meant by her remark, but I was proud of my daughter for contributing to my explanation of “our story”—even if it made her appear a bit precocious. Because the fact is, my daughter is precocious.

My loathed ex-boyfriend, Library Guy, happens to share a name with my male best friend. Since I no longer communicate with Library Guy (and Jayda is well aware of this), I’ve recently begun to drop nicknames and say his name with the assumption that Jayda will know I’m referring to my best friend. But that’s not the case. Each and every time I utter my ex’s shared name, Jayda asks, “Do you mean your best friend—or the ‘one who broke your heart?’” What’s worse is she speaks loudly—and doesn’t care who else is listening for my clarification. That’s my girl.

In just a few weeks, Jayda will be turning six years old. Part of me can’t believe how quickly she is growing up, and yet, I also appreciate that she’s still a young child. However, Jayda clearly thinks differently: when she asks me questions about events that occurred a year or two ago, she prefaces her questions with, “back when I was a little kid…” She also speaks longingly of the future when she’ll “have a real baby,” (which is always followed by my insistence that she “means 20-something years from now, right?”) and told me the other day that she felt “the L-word” for a boy in her class. I definitely have my work cut out for me.

Fortunately, however, my precocious daughter hasn’t yet started kissing boys, and instead begs me for kisses all over her face at night. Besides coveting my bras (and constantly trying them on and strutting in front of the mirror), she also covets my lap when we’re reading or watching television together, and loves cuddling with me every morning and night in bed. And for every show on TeenNick that she begs to watch, there are still Disney movies and an occasional episode of Doc McStuffins that keeps her riveted to the screen. My kid is definitely an aspiring teenager—but she’s also a six-year-old at heart. And I’m holding on to that—and her plump little six-year-old belly—as tightly as I can.