Hard to believe, but I just waved goodbye to a fourth grader and a sixth grader. They groaned a bit these last few weeks that their summer was coming to an end, but I noticed they both packed up their school supplies the first time I asked and both were up and dressed before the alarm went off this morning.
Last night as I was combing out her long straight hair, Natalie said, "I don't really want to be one of the older kids. I just don't think I have a knack for it." I had to smile. Oh, baby. Life is going to throw all kinds of things at you, some of which you will have a knack for, and many things for which you will not.
I can't slow down time to allow you to prepare, for even one more second, let alone a day or a year. It's better this way. If mommies could slow the clock, you would be forever my bright-eyed flyaway two year old, so skinny your diaper would fall off, so busy running that your super fine hair was permanently swept backwards in wings to rival Farah Fawcett's. You have a knack for joy.
I'd have missed the serious gray-eyed four year old in pink plaid overalls, sitting cross-legged and dwarfed by the big old rocker, methodically reading every book on the shelf, one after another. There were never enough books. You have a knack for knowledge.
And if I'd stopped the clock there, I'd have entirely missed my brave and shining Little Red Hen, the absurdity of the puffy costume unable to hide the sublime as your high, sweet heart sang out across the auditorium with stars in your eyes. Or your glittering pixie-dusted Wendy perching on the windowsill. You have a knack for flying.
What would I miss if I press pause just now, on my gloriously silly and smart cusp-of-young-womanhood girl? If I stop the frame and let my eyes hungrily devour the gorgeousness of the lashes that brush your still-rounded rose-petal cheeks as you lean into your drawing for Daddy, swept by the long ponytail that makes you look too grown up? You have a knack for love.
If the clock's beats lengthened, the time longer between ticks, we would appreciate the gravity of the matter even less than we do now. The precious ineffable moments would fill with trivia and dailiness just like all the others, and before we knew it we'd be on to the next act all the same. And so, with my finger hovering over the button, "I" pause... "I" stop... because you cannot. And so I realize I would not stop you if I could.
Here comes your life, my living doll... knack for it or no. Fourth grade may indeed not be your forte. I'll do all I can to support you as it marches inexorably past us on the kitchen calendar. I cross off today with my heart full. And then I'll blink and it will be time to post your annual front-porch picture again. And I will be glad, so fiercely glad, I did not stop you this year, capture you and cork you up in the bottle I have ready and waiting in my anxious doting mother-heart.
I won't miss it. I refuse to. I won't miss, you, becoming.
Go ahead, Girl. NeverLand exists for us only on the stage. I sit in the audience and watch you becoming. It is the most glory-filled thing I have had the privilege to observe in all my blessed and adventurous life. Because you have a knack for it.