The Last Official Day of Being a Kid

Announced the other day by Emmie, the day before her 13th birthday: “Today is my last official day of being a kid…that’s kind of sad.” I could have said something sage about how “13 is just a number” or “everyone should honor their ‘inner child’ no matter how old they get”, but I didn’t…I didn’t want to minimize the wiseness of her observation, because it’s true in a way.  Plus, the whole concept of a “last official day of being a kid” intrigued me… I thought back to what I might have been doing on mine…was I dreading another awkward day of 7th grade? (Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I pulled up a ’74 calendar.  The day before my 13th birthday was a weekday, a Friday.)  Was I lugging my snare drum case down the long flight of stairs to the jr. high band hall, trying not to hit anyone along the way? Was I looking forward to being the first among my friends to serve that new food called a “taco” at my upcoming slumber party? Did I fall asleep that night listening to Tony Orlando and Dawn on the radio? 

The “last official day of being a kid” ought to be marked with more fanfare than that, maybe by doing lots of “kid things”.  Like eating a popsicle, coloring with crayons and playing with Play Doh. Or singing Sesame Street songs or Eddie Coker tunes as loud as possible. Or watching old videos of “Bananas in Pajamas”, “Arthur”, or “Teletubbies”…Too bad it was raining on Emmie’s “last official day”, or else I would have encouraged her to at least go jump on our backyard trampoline…

It’s definitely a transition time for the mom of that about-to-be-13-year-old as well, especially when it’s the youngest child. Shouldn’t Mom mark it or commemorate it in some way, too? Maybe grab your child’s hand as you walk from the car into the grocery store– unless they’ve long ago told you to stop. Maybe play a certain board game one last time with your child, a game you’re about to give to Goodwill, like Scrabble Jr. or Chutes ‘n Ladders. Or maybe, go on a bike ride together…

Just when I thought Emmie’s “last day of being a kid” would come and go pretty uneventful for both her and me, something unexpected happened just before she was to head to bed.  A wail was heard from the bathroom, where she’d been taking a shower.  And it wasn’t “Dad!” or “Mom!” or the more hip “Hey, Pat!” she’s been taking a liking to lately, but a full blown “MOMMY!!” She ran out of the bathroom, bypassed her hero, Dad, and ran straight upstairs to find me. She was soaking wet, wrapped in a towel, shaking and squealing.  “I cut myself!!!” she cried, “and it won’t stop bleeding!” While I was thrilled she’d come to uncool me for help, I was also thankful, when I saw the blood, that I didn’t live in a country where I might have been forced to choose EMT as my profession. She’d sliced off a one-inch by one-half-inch piece of skin near her ankle while shaving, and the bleeding, raw layer of skin that was now looking back at me had me near-fainting. I felt a shiver run from my head to my feet.  But I remained totally calm, acting like some true first aid pro, having her elevate her leg and foot, grabbing a wad of Kleenex and pressing it hard against the wound, having her keep up the pressure while I rifled through a cabinet looking for First Aid cream and bandages. We used up a lot of Kleenex before I found the right stuff.

She was grateful when I finally made the bleeding stop and she could go to bed feeling better.  I was proud of myself for remembering what to do, and for doing a good job in spite of my aversion to blood.  And yes, I also realized that having “Mommy” bandage up a shaving wound may have been a pretty fitting way to commemorate the transition from 12 to 13.

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