Parents like to celebrate a lot of “firsts”, don’t we? Some are commemorated in a big way, with photographs, words in a baby book or scrapbook, video… like first smile, first solid food, first steps, first tooth, first word, first birthday, first haircut. As kids get older, firsts occur less frequently, but we still try to look for them and celebrate them—first lost tooth, first day of school, first time to ride a bike…first time at summer camp, first time to get ears pierced (who’d have thought there’d be a second time?), first car…celebrating “firsts” adds fun to our often mundane lives and helps kids feel special. And I think it helps parents feel, well, like parents—proud, happy and sometimes sad, all rolled together. But as we all know, the second child and all others to follow usually get shortchanged in this commemoration. There are definitely less photos of “firsts” in our house for Emmie than for Allison. I remember when I finally got around to grabbing the camera to take a picture of Emmie’s gaping hole where her first lost tooth had been, the new tooth was already showing itself quite nicely.
But even when I don’t make a big deal of milestones, I’m quietly commemorating them in my heart, often ones that other parents might not give a second thought… I can remember the first time I was caught in the rain with Allison and the first time she was big enough to sit in the front seat of the car. I remember the first night Emmie slept in a “big girl bed” instead of a crib– that look of happiness and pride is unforgettable. I remember the first time she jumped off a diving board at the neighborhood pool. There was that look of happiness and pride again. And recently I’ve noticed another quiet milestone going on, throughout this school year, that I don’t think Emmie’s paying as much attention to as I am—she definitely doesn’t share my twinge of sadness, which is probably good. This is the year that pretend play is ending. She’s 11 years old and in fifth grade, so I guess I should consider myself lucky that it’s lasted this long. And guess I should be happy that I’m going to have more space in my house, since there is much more to our spring cleaning this year than usual. All those costumes I’ve saved over time, all those costumes I’d buy on cut-rate special the day after Halloween and use as great Christmas presents and the girls would have hours and hours of fun with them…not long ago I realized that not only do most of them hardly fit Emmie any more, but “dressing up” is no longer how she and her friends want to spend their time together. At least not dressing up like princesses and fairies. Time to give some costumes to her younger cousin, as well as all the crowns and plastic dress-up shoes that go with them. Bratz Dolls? She recently gave them to a charity. The play kitchen and plastic food? Ditto. The toy vacuum cleaner, fake cash register, doll stroller, and doll bunk bed? Given to a cousin last month. All those Webkinz stuffed animals Emmie so carefully saved money to buy and was still collecting less than a year ago? They are now “too childish” and have been put in a “to be decided later” drawer. Waiting in the wings to be boxed and given away are “tons” of tiny Polly Pocket dolls and accessories and something called Littlest Pet Shop…
Not only has she outgrown pretend play this year, she says she’s outgrown the color pink and wants to re-do her pink bedroom. Since Andy and I are not quite ready to do that, she decided last week to make a few changes to her room on her own, to make it feel more “hers”. All by herself, she re-arranged furniture and moved out “stuff” she didn’t want. This morning after she went to school, I found myself standing in the doorway of those four still-very-pink painted walls, looking at the result of her efforts and noticing how it’s like a perfect “diorama” of the current transition in her life… several Barbies and her two American Girl dolls still sit on shelves; her electric and acoustic guitars are also on display, propped on stands on the floor next to her amplifier; a satiny pastel purple poodle skirt made the cut from the costume collection; the gigantic face of Robert Pattinson broods out from her Twilight “Team Edward” blanket which she’s thrown on her bed, covering up her “flowers and butterflies” bedspread… and a small cardboard box “bank” she created for herself sits on top of her chest of drawers, covered in construction paper with the words “Money for My New Bedroom” scrawled in marker on the sides… (there were a few coins in it).
I don’t think a scrapbook page would do this scene justice, so I’ll count this milestone memory as another that will just have to be photographed on my heart (and written in my blog).