Don’t go changing – a parenting challenge

This summer has been a good one for our family, but it has come with a little bit of melancholy as I realise how quickly our daughter is growing up.

I’ve never hankered for our children to be babies again (or to add any more to our family – I know my limits!); as each year passes they have become more interesting, engaging and surprising and there is a huge amount to be said for being free of potty training and broken sleep. These strong-bodied, active, articulate little people teach me just as much about myself (I need to keep a cooler head, play more, worry less) as they do about themselves (they hear more than I give them credit for, they can sense if I want five minutes to myself and so to interrupt me, they will read the front cover of Private Eye and ask what “pissed” means….).

This summer, however, I’ve felt a niggle. One that I should be mentally capturing moments and committing them to memory even more keenly than before, especially when it comes to our daughter.

For her, this summer has been one of cartwheels, of plunging into rivers on rope swings, Cub camps and family camps and running through fields uninhibited and happy.

For me, it has been one of unexpected cuddles, of watching her conquer fears and dive into swimming pools and freezing seas, of tearing across a field in her shorts roaring with laughter, of conspiring with her cousins for an extra hour of play. It has been the best.

And then I remember that she’s now moved up a year at school. And that there are girls two years older than her entering into puberty and if I’m honest, I’m happy to wait a hell of a lot longer for that to come knocking.

My husband and I don’t ‘baby’ our children, and we’re open about what’s to come, but now feels like a very special time for our girl. I can still carry her (although only just), and it is still more than ok to tickle fight, water fight and pillow fight. I’m still helping with hair washes, and still called upon to give a kiss goodnight and read bedtime stories. She is free to run, jump and play unselfconsciously and I want that to last *as long as possible*.

I like to think that a bit of honesty plus keeping the house free of MTV, Page 3 and trashy magazines will help to keep her free of undue pressure and crappy role models but I can’t delay the inevitable, and I can’t pretend it isn’t going to happen. What I do hope is that I get just a couple more summers like this one. Don’t go changing – not just yet.

I'll love these little footprints forever
I’ll love these little footprints forever….

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