Growing Up is Hard, But It’s Not a Bad Thing
I had envisioned for a couple of years how our talk about the tooth fairy would go. She would come to me and ask, and I would say excitedly, “You figured it out! This is a good thing! Yay!” and all the other celebratory things a mom is supposed to say in those moments.
But, instead, when all of my daughter’s teeth started falling out of her mouth after her twelfth birthday (who knew they lost so many teeth at that age?), my husband and I concluded that she knew. She MUST know.
So, we gently handed over a dollar when she lost another tooth and asked, “Do you know what this means?” She replied, “The tooth fairy isn’t real.” And I then went into my celebratory speech while she sat there silent.
She didn’t know. At twelve years old, she still believed, and she burst into tears.
I felt terrible of course, because what mother wants to tell her kid that all of her childhood magic was a lie? But, the truth is, it was time. Most of her friends knew and she was headed to middle school. So, I don’t regret letting her in on the secret.
But, I was still shocked she didn’t know. And when I held her in my arms while she sobbed, I felt awful. Especially when she lamented, “I don’t want to grow up!”
You see – we had thrown a lot at her the past couple of days, also informing her about the birds and the bees. Looking back, it was a lot all at once for her, but we thought she’d take it in stride, and be happy to be armed with new information and excitement about being a big kid.
Instead, she now didn’t want to grow up. Great. Just great. I thought.
But, the truth is, I am in the stage now where I’m in no hurry for my kids to grow up either. And since she’s my oldest, I’m frankly learning things as I go. Yes, I’m making mistakes, and apologizing for them, and trying to figure out how to navigate the world of parenting a big kid.
Watching your kids grow up is hard. But, as my daughter cried in my arms, here’s a little of what I said to her.
Growing up means more freedom. It means later nights at your friends” houses, later bedtimes, and more time away from home.
It means things like school dances, extracurricular activities, and learning to manage your own little life at school on your own.
It means privileges like getting a cell phone one day, and being allowed to be dropped off at the mall or go see a movie with your friends.
It means overnight school trips, and maybe a vacation without your parents one day.
It means getting a driver’s license and feeling the thrill of going somewhere alone, even if it’s just to the grocery store to get bread for your mom.
Down the road – growing up means other relationships like dating, and meeting new people at work. It means more grown-up friendships, and getting to know people that you’ll have in your life forever.
It means making money, managing it, and buying your first car. While all of that seems scary, it is actually fun. You learn a lot, and feel more independent than ever when you get that first paycheck.
It means college and careers and making choices when the world is literally opened up wide to you.
There is so much to look forward to about growing up. Adventure, independence, and even responsibility are all things worth looking forward to.
You have to grow up to become the person you are meant to become. And, I know you’ll be a fantastic grown up one day, just like you’ve been a fantastic kid.
And, one day, you’ll grow up and decide to settle down and get married and have a family of your own. That’s when the real beauty of life starts.
Yes, the hard stuff gets harder, and being an adult isn’t always easy, but loving and raising up a family of your own is one of the sweetest things I’ve been able to experience in my own life. And, I know it will be so sweet for you too.
Yes, it’s hard now, at the tender age of twelve to think about leaving behind the magic of childhood. Because it really is magical. But, don’t worry about growing up. There is still lots more magic ahead of you.
And, one day, when you’re holding your own little girl who doesn’t want to grow up, the most magical part is you’ll remember how you felt, and be able to help her see the magic in all that lies ahead.
Because, growing up is magical too.