So, the Cutester is now 9.
I know from previous experience, in the form of her older sister, that there is a vast gulf between 8 and 9. The truth was forced on me when I took the Redster to H&M Kids just after she’d turned 9 herself, and we found the shop divided into 0-8s … and 9-14s. I had to walk past all the Hello Kitty nighties and stripy tights and buy my little girl clothes from the teenage section. I was traumatised.
It does kind of make sense though. Puberty starts to make a visible impact on many girls from 9. They start to wear those little crop-top vest things under their school shirts to preserve their modesty while changing for PE in the classroom alongside the boys. They also start getting grumpy and sassy. It’s the beginning of the end.
I preferred 8. I was hanging on to 8. While the looming 9 heralded the end of the Cutester’s childhood, 8 was its perfect pinnacle. The Cutester as an 8-year-old is pure child – physically accomplished with her cartwheels and loombands and musical skills, mentally sophisticated enough to get the best jokes and enjoy the funniest family films; but no hint of puberty whatsoever, and just – I can’t put this into words – just pure child. Maybe it’s the way she chooses to get around: by any means she can think of except for boring old one foot in front of the other. Or that she thinks nothing of eating while sitting, not on the seat, but on the back of her chair. Or that she suddenly decides on a complete, outlandish change of outfit – or two – in the middle of the day.
Or that she nearly dies of ecstasy when shown a picture featuring a kitten / baby panda / anything small and fluffy with big eyes.
And that she has absolutely no problem cuddling her mum hello and goodbye in the school playground.
We’re one week into being 9 and there’s no sign of her childhood being over just yet. Although perhaps there is a new, and welcome, awareness of her own feelings. She told me one night, after a complete meltdown, ‘I knew I was making a horrible noise and it was annoying everyone but my brain was MAKING me do it and I couldn’t stop.’
She was genuinely baffled and remorseful. Compare and contrast to one year ago, after her drama class:
Me: ‘How was drama?’
Her: ‘It was really good. Except Amelia was crying.’
‘Why was Amelia crying?’
‘Oh, because she hit me.’
‘Amelia hit you and she was crying?’
‘Yes, she hit my foot with her chin while I was doing a cartwheel.’
I just have to relish what’s left of it, I suppose. And learn from my own mistakes with the Redster, who at 12 is fast sailing into uncharted waters, so I can get it a bit less wrong with her little sister.
And there’s always hope while this sort of thing is happening (especially the celebration at the end) …
…though how much longer her father can play a part is anyone’s guess 🙂