Parental Guidance suggested (but needed less and less)

I took my nine year old to the Hunger Games movie.  At the nine o’clock showing.  On a school night.  GASP!  I know, I know…feel free to relentlessly judge me, I deserve it.  The fact is, Avery is a reader.  No, not just a good reader…she’s the type of reader that can read War and Peace over a commercial break.   She inhales books.  If she ever has to be grounded this will sum up the best possible punishment for her…

But…when she asked to read The Hunger Games I was very hesitant.  It’s pretty gruesome.  Not to be a spoiler but we’re talking futuristic bloodshed involving children and all I could imagine was a nine-year-old asleep in my bed for the next 5 years because she was terrified from this “young adult” book.  She begged, and begged and finally I agreed to read it WITH her.  We’d sit down and read a chapter at a time, out-loud together.  Honestly…I have to admit…I loved it.  Since Edy was born I’ve been trying to figure out a way to spend some quality one-on-one time with her older sisters.  Anything involving books is hitting a home run with Avery in every possible way.  She gets to devour another book and I get to do it with her, win-win.  She never even flinched at the book…we finished it and immediately started the next one in the series.

So when the movie came out I was so excited to see it with her, just the two of us.  As we walked into the theater she reached up and grabbed my hand to hold.  I immediately looked down because her hand felt so different.  It didn’t have the same baby pudginess I remember from before.  That little soft squishiness that I used to feel on the back of her hand was gone…replaced by thin skin over pre-teen bones.  When did that happen?

I didn’t know this maturing had occurred because I can’t remember the last time I held her hand.  With three kids there is a triage situation when it comes to physical attention.  A single human being has only two hands, one lap, two ears…you get the picture.  You dole out the physical affection in the order in which it is needed or most aggressively demanded.  Obviously, Edy is an attention hoarder at this point in her life.  Laney has always been a really high-touch kid and she is skilled at quickly grabbing my empty side.  Which leaves what for Avery?  Nada.  So when she saw her chance, she took it.  Held my hand all the way into the theater and then locked arms with me when we sat in our chairs.  The luxury of one-on-one time.

As we sat down and started gorging ourselves on cotton candy and popcorn  intellectually discussing the movie, I also noticed that I was having a nice time talking to her.  Not in the cute way that I enjoyed when she was younger…this was different.  It was more of a conversation than a child-like give and take.  It struck me that she had started forming her own opinions and that they were separate from mine.  She has reasoning skills, likes and dislikes and she was voicing them. growing.up.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  I just stared at her profile as she watched the previews and realized that my first born is almost in double digits age-wise.  I experienced an odd combination of emotions that included joy, pride and melancholy.  She went to the bathroom alone, she talked to her friend that we saw there without having to be prompted by me to “say hello…”  She truly is becoming her own person…a person closer to adulthood than infancy.

Halfway through the movie though, she laid her head on my shoulder, yawned, looked up at me and said, “Mama, I’m tired.  Wake me up if I fall asleep, I really don’t want to miss anything.”  Just like that, she seemed so little again.  She’s not quite completely grown…yet.

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