Nearing Ten Is Girlhood’s Tight Rope

She’s nearing the end of 9. It’s the year, I have read, where her confidence peaks. For life.

I’ve struggled with that knowledge, hoping the confidence and surety she exhibits now will stick around. Because, I know she’ll need it. Life doesn’t offer many compromises. The world doesn’t bend for any one person.

She’s in this real sweet spot, too. One that waffles, predictably, between embracing a childish romanticism about things and demonstrating an ability to critically analyze concepts, and dip into more mature subjects.

“Can we please get an Oija board?”

That, she asks, after saying how badly she would love to start an overnight recording during the Christmas season to capture the movements of our Elf, which bid our family farewell last year by writing her a heartfelt note. I look to her older brother for support after hearing this, and he just smiles and shrugs.

And five minutes later, the same kid who believes in a magic elf is rapping to Slim Shady.

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Super models be like…

She loves Stranger Things, and never flinched once while watching it. She’s learning to control a horse, to be the boss in the saddle. And she still snuggles with Bolt, a cartoon dog that never knew it was a cartoon.

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Her first day with spurs. Surprised her smile fit under her helmet.

She wears mascara when she remembers, because she can’t see her fair eyelashes otherwise. And, she wants to see her eyelashes. She analyzes lyrics and asks what they mean, and she doesn’t want anything to do with “drama.” She knows more than I think, consistently surprising me with her academics, her intuition, her desire for equality and her understanding of language.

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Fresh color always feels the best.

She’s seen some things I hope she always remembers, experienced some things for which I hope the same. And the things that hurt, I hope drift away. Because, she’s young enough for that to happen, still.

My dad calls her “squirt,” and she still gets excited to see teachers out in real life, at the store or at her horseback riding lessons when the school secretary shows up. It seems she’ll never not have offers for piggyback rides, but oddly, I feel like she may be close to being able to watch a real horror movie – like The Shining or something like that.

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Fully color coordinated without even trying.

She’s got one high-top forward in the years that are coming for her, and one knee sock back where childhood fantasies involving the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus live.

I just hope that when she steps away from those fantasies, she brings her socks with her.

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Kevin Bacon and Footloose, in heels and an astronaut suit, like people do.