Last week I took Abbi to the doctor’s office for a routine visit. As I sat next to my gangly, taller-than-me (only slightly) almost-teenager in the waiting room, I noticed the kid-sized table and chairs over in the corner. One of those tables with the clear plastic top that has sand in between the two layers and little metal objects buried in the sand, with cords hanging down that have magnets attached – the idea being that kids use the magnets underneath the table to move the metal objects around through the sand.
The kind of thing that only a few years ago, Abbi would have noticed immediately upon entering the room and which would have occupied her attention fully until her name was called to go back into the exam room.
Instead, my tween had dropped into the waiting room chair, begged to play on my phone, and hadn’t looked up again since.
I pointed this out to her at the time – my nostalgic, ‘hey, remember when…’ was treated with a long-suffering sigh, eye-roll and complaint of “Moommm!” before her eyes were drawn right back to the screen.
I’ve gotten used to the tween ‘attitude’ over the past few years, but realized that day that I don’t really remember exactly when Abbi moved from child to sulky adolescent. I know it happened within the past year or so, but it’s one of those transitions that occurs without any one event to herald it. Not like when a child’s first steps mark the moment they move from infant to toddler… Oh there are physical changes that occur here too, but they happen more slowly, over time.
And suddenly one day you notice that your ‘baby’ can look you in the eye and no longer thinks you are the center of her universe. Instead of walking through parking lots holding tiny hands and watching out for cars, you’re ten feet behind as they move quickly away from your side so they don’t have to acknowledge they’re (gasp) accompanied by an adult.
Hannah is still in the middle of this transition – caught between the excitement of more independence and the desire to stay a child. She still plays with stuffed animals and Barbies – but also ignored the sand/magnet table in favor of playing on my phone at the doctor’s office this week. She complained to me the other day that, “Abbi is boring – she won’t play with me anymore, but just wants to sit down in her room and listen to music…”
I gently pointed out that someday that might seem fun to her too, but she tossed that idea aside with an emphatic, “No Way!”.
Sadly, I know she’ll soon be a sulky teen-to-be as well, even if that day seems like an impossibility for her right now. She’s not that far behind her big sister – only 20 months in age and less than that in level of maturity. It’s always been that way and I’m sure it won’t be any different here. She won’t even notice or pay much attention to the transition, and I have the feeling that the exact moment of subtle change will pass me by for her as it did for Abbi.
For just over twelve years, I’ve been a mom. Next April, I’ll start the first of a dozen years of being a mom to teenagers. A transition for the kids yes, but also for me, for Ron and for our family as a whole.
A bit sad, to see them start to leave childhood behind. But also so exciting as well – to see what kinds of adults they’re starting to be.
At least I still have a few years yet before I’m the shortest one in the family.