My baby is growing up. She’s gone from napping to texting, walking to playing club sports, learning to eat solid foods to cooking dinner for our family. Somewhere in the time span this young woman has become mature, smart, self-aware, and one hell of a great person. I’d love to claim the trophy for the person she’s developing into…but it goes to her.

This kid navigates life in a big, active family. She’s grown up being dragged from event to event. Her first bookfair was at 13 months. She spent 12 hours at the school with me and entertained everyone from her vantage point in a backpack carrier. When it was finally her turn to attend kindie, she marched into the school like she owned the place, showing other kids where to hang backpacks and how to open the bookshelf latch. My girl grew up in that school and was already at home. She OWNED her experience.

The thing about this kid….my kid…I’m still getting to know her. Her tendency is to be quiet and observe. She takes in everything, even when you think she’s not paying attention. Smart as a whip, sarcastic to a fault, this kid is on it. She sneaks in a wisecrack at the best possible moment, helps with spelling any word anyone asks, and loves her pets fiercely.

The confidence she exudes at home is amazing.

Yet, I see it. The nervous feelings. Her anxiety over friends. Being a girl is hard. Generation after generation, mean girls seem to still exist. I witnessed something a few weeks ago and I can’t shake the look on her face from my heart. Girls her age were just plain rude and dismissive to her. I was sitting right there and it didn’t matter. My daughter didn’t react, just kept doing her thing but I caught the slight falter, the slumped shoulders, and the eyes not as bright as they were the minute before.

On the way home we talked. In my militant mom style, I began, “You know that you are to treat every one with kindness, right?”

“Yes.” She answered me softly.

“Are you okay?” I asked in the compassionate voice I should have used before.

“I’m fine.”

That’s the answer I get way too much. I struggle with letting her come to me when she’s ready, making sure she knows I’m not ignoring her. I want her to know how much I love her and support her. Regardless of what’s going on, I want her to know that I’m here for her.

But in her way, HER WAY, she deals with life.

This kid knows we love her and would move the stars and planets for her. My baby is growing up and learning to deal with all the sorts of people that exist in our world. While I want her to have all the rainbows and flowers, she’ll have the storms and rough seas too. Hopefully, we’ve given her the tools to navigate her way to happy.

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