My daughter’s been hurting lately. But not in a way that needs a band aid. She’s trying to navigate a world where things don’t make sense and friends can turn and love can end. People who were steady are instead shifting and purple starts to just look black. She’s entering into a world where problems loom so much larger than she can handle and there’s all this business of boundaries and obedience. So I’m rolling up my sleeves and doing my mother’s best at fighting the heavy. As Florence + the Machine blares through my ipod speakers, it is hard to dance with a devil on your back.
So shake him off.
Today, one of my daughter’s girlfriends came and spent the day. We made blueberry pancakes with roasted pecans and shook powdered sugar on top from an old half-rusted sifter. In the afternoon we had a party for no reason where six girls played dress-up and beauty shop and hop scotch. They ate cupcakes and danced like monkeys and drew roads all up and down our driveway with chalk. When the mothers came the girls all cried out to stay, with dirty feet and tussled hair and my daughter just beamed with pride. At night, we watched The Jetsons episodes, with George puttering around in his space mobile. And after bath, I heard her talking to her dolls and soothing their fears. Rocking and loving and tucking them inside sleeping bags tight.
It’s time for bed, I said. She smiled without argument and turned off the lights.
I came and lay beside her, that precious skin and fragile spirit that I bore and held and loved before I even saw her face. I told her that God gave her a spirit gift of intuition that not everyone has. I told her she could sense a good friend from a bad, and that she naturally gravitates toward honest and real. I was proud that she sought out pure, kind hearts. She nodded at this, because she’s wise enough to know it’s true. I told her that good friends are lifetime treasures, and that I’ve been on-my-knees thankful for them myself.
Then this precious soul tells me with a shaky voice that sometimes good friends turn bad, and bad friends turn good, and I said that’s just about right. And yet baby, don’t get jaded because the cream will always rise. Keep seeking out good with your heart and it will all end up happy. She hugged me tight and asked for butterfly nose kisses and said that she liked to snuggle in flannel sheets even in the Spring because they’re soft, and I told her that was just fine too. I rubbed her little girl arm and smelled that baby-fine hair and wished she’d stay this way forever.
Growing up’s the pits and all it means is mortgages and heartbreak but to be young means to flutter and sing and never have to worry about ill-fitting waistbands. Being young is joy and hope and light that conquers all. At the end of the day, as the cicadas sing and the oak trees brush against the tin roof and momma’s always gonna be around, light does indeed win over darkness. Cupcakes and hop scotch and blueberry pancakes soften into dreams, and fresh new mornings, and school shoes once again, and isn’t this what childhood is all about?