I had a bunch of kids over at my house this week for a writing camp. Mostly girls going into 5th grade, a boy, and my daughter – who will be starting 3rd grade this fall.
The theme was Percy Jackson and to prepare I did some internet searches (I’d never read the books or seen the movies, but my daughter had watched them and I’d caught glimpses. I knew there were swords, and Pinterest validated this.)
A pvc “+” and a pool noodle, and the kids can safely sword fight all week between writing prompts, trivia, and PJ movie sessions. All set.
Off to Lowe’s and the dollar store for sword making supplies and a few prizes to give away at the end of camp.
Funny thing, though…
This kid is going into second grade, and she just turned eight years old.
We pop into Walmart all the time but for whatever reason, it seemed like it had been quite a while since she and I went on a shopping excursion like this. Going to the dollar store for some cheap pool noodles and Home Depot for the PVC pipes to make into swords, and Walmart for some writing journals and pencils and other supplies. In other words, we would be spending a fair portion of our afternoon shopping together.
The last time we did this, at least the last one I documented, was when we went to Walmart to try out bicycles. Two wheelers with training wheels. I think she was about three years old. That’s five years ago.
During that trek, we tried out soccer balls – well, we played soccer in the aisles for about twenty minutes – and rollerskates, a trampoline, a few T-shirts, bought some balloons… And eventually checked out the bicycles.
Again, I’ve been shopping with her plenty since then, but… I think in my mind she’s still four or five years old. Older than when we got the bicycle, but not in third grade.
Except of course she is. Almost. In two months.
In this picture, I don’t see an eight-year-old girl. I mean, I do, but I don’t. I see a slightly larger version of the three-year-old. I guess the changes happen in such tiny bits every day in front of us, so we don’t notice from one day to the next. When we went to put on some “winter“ pajamas this past January, we realized she had outgrown them. Last summer and last Thanksgiving there were some issues of toes hurting in shoes. It’s funny because I’m not sure I’ve outgrown a pair of shoes in more than 10 years, but of course she’s outgrowing them every 2 to 3 months.
Much of that playful Walmart day that existed at age three and four is still present today. A lot of it, thank God.
But at the writing camp, which took place in my house, she acted very much like the other kids – who are a few years older than her. (That was good to see. Last year she could only last till about noon and then she had to go play in her room. This year she was able to finish the camp each day.)
But she still wanted to sword fight and balloon fight at this year’s camp, and play tag with the other kids during the breaks, which they all did.
So maybe the grown-up kids aren’t so grown up, and maybe my baby girl isn’t quite a baby anymore. Obviously. Duh.
But in many ways she is. Still very playful. Still very innocent, I think.
And I look at pictures like the one above and it takes my brain a second or two to see an eight-year-old and not a three-year-old or four-year-old or five-year-old. I guess I’m just a few years behind, mentally, when it comes to her. It’s pretty easy to see her every day and think of her as five, but not really as four anymore. She’s not learning to swim like when she was two. She knows her way around the school campus with certainty, not like when she was five.
But it’s still my first thought. That she’s three or four.
I guess that’s normal. It’s a first thought, after all; a fleeting glimpse, a peek at a memory of a little kid who doesn’t exist any more, but who, in many ways, does.
I like that.
I love who she was and I love who she’s becoming. It’s fun to watch.
I miss that little kid even though she’s still right here.
And in some ways she always will be. As long as she still wants to play sword fight with a pool noodle pvc sword. Heck, I’d still play with one. They’re fun.
And if I want to do it at my age, maybe it’s because I haven’t grown up all that much, either. Or maybe I just want to play with my kid while she still wants to play with me, and curl up on the couch with me, and go on a Walmart – Lowe’s – Dollar Tree shopping spree with me. I don’t know. I’m not sure it matters.
But I’m gonna make a second pool noodle pvc sword today and challenge her to some duels.