On Sunday, Jo will cross the line that separates girls from young ladies. She will, officially, be 13.
I keep shaking my head in wonder, awed at the fact that the little girl who once refused to wear anything but Snow White costume to the grocery store is suddenly borrowing my t-shirts, loaning me hair bands, and asking if she can make brownies for dessert since she has nothing else to do.
There's a certain sense of the surreal, too, with a newborn baby girl in the house just as Jo teeters on the edge of growing up. Seven is a very real reminder of all that we've already walked through with Jo, from the late night feedings to the obsession with horses, from the trimming of tiny fingernails to the countless rounds of "Chutes and Ladders."
|Jo and Atticus at Fair|
I can't believe it's all in the past, that that part of parenting my very first little girl has already slipped by me. And how is it that the knowledge that I was there for all of it somehow make it seem all the more bittersweet? I listened as she learned to read. I taught her to knit. I held her hand at the orthodontist's office. I have been a constant in her life. And yet, the balance of time she has left when she will define herself as someone's daughter first and foremost is shifting. Our relationship is changing.
She doesn't need me any less. I have to keep reminding myself of this as I see her balance so much more than I ever expected at this age. The peculiar thing about many homeschooled children is that they mature in terms of responsibility so much faster that their traditionally schooled peers, even as they lag behind in some of the more worldly aspects of life. Jo is clueless about most popular music and flavor-of-the-moment icons of her generation. It would never occur to her to ask for a cell phone or to "hang out" at a mall. But she runs a small, profitable rabbitry with a clear head and sets personal goals better than most adults I know. She is trustworthy, honest to a fault, and kind. These, I think, are the worthier things for a teen to pursue.
But yes, she needs me. My job is nowhere near done. Now is the time for coaching, encouraging, mentoring, refining. This is the season where I get to engage on a whole new level with the young lady my daughter is becoming. My Jo is turning 13. What a wonderful gift to celebrate!