My kids are old. I just said goodnight and goodbye to my 6-year-old J, because she’ll be 7 in the morning. If it were numbers alone, I think that I could handle it, but after I tucked her in, I left her in bed reading Ten Timid Ghosts to herself, by herself. Which is wonderful! Really. Except: she’s so old.
We just hauled out the Halloween books and decorations because the playroom’s finally clean and tidy. The girls love to pull out decorations for an upcoming holiday, so it’s always a good motivator for organizing. This time it’s even more urgent, with a kid party coming up on what will probably be another rainy day.
So over the past few days we’ve been working on the playroom together, as we often do. But this time it was different. Early on, M asked, “Mom, do you think that someday we could have a couch and maybe the old tv down here?” Yes, I answered. Because that was always the plan: once the toys weren’t overwhelming, I imagined art projects and movie nights with friends and slumber parties in this playroom. I guess I’d never said that to them because it wasn’t time. But this new vision had M motivated.
Next thing I knew, the girls were ready to clear out most of the My Little Pony stuff, along with their play kitchen. Now, I’m always saying that we can get rid of things that they don’t want anymore, but we usually only manage to cull 2 or 3 items, tops. This time, they were on fire. Bags and bags of toys gone. I was a little sad. I even made them pose for last pictures with the kitchen.
So it was a relief when, after it was all clean, both girls headed downstairs to play. This is another tradition: the super-tidy playroom inspires a whole new round of pretend play, involving all the toys that were just filed away–because, of course, plenty remain. I made dinner. They played and played.
And then I realized: they weren’t making a pretend world like usual. They were choreographing their own dance routine. Which is great. But so old. So almost-tweenish. They called me down, and I watched. They were goofy and spunky and graceful, and they were getting along so well together. But as I clapped, I looked around, and I missed that play kitchen and even those little plastic ponies. Mostly I missed my little girls.