Growing Up Is Hard To Do

My daughter, Lilly, is growing up.

And quite frankly, it's killing me!

I mean, I knew it was inevitable...right? The natural progression of life tells us that aging happens--day by day, year by year; there is no stopping it. I see the telltale signs of it in the little lines on my face and in my neck. I feel the telltale signs of it when I think I'm young enough to stay up for a midnight movie, and then fall asleep halfway through! It stinks.

And it stinks to see it in my children. My daughter once talked about Disney princesses and whether-or-not feather boas could be worn to preschool. She always held my hand when we crossed the street and thought sidewalk chalk was the coolest thing ever. Now she tells me about Pokemon and Selena Gomez and the boys she likes at school. She wants to wash her hair and paint her nails by herself. While running errands together one day, she told me she and her friends talked about periods and puberty at lunch. I darn near crashed the car.    

I love to reflect on the time when she was a little girl. I remember how she enjoyed lending a helping hand in the kitchen. She would laboriously drag a chair (from our dinner table) across the sandstone-colored tile floor of my kitchen, to the small counter space by the sink. She'd climb up on the chair and then stand at attention--ready to take culinary direction from me. She was my right hand, my assistant. She was the perfect sous-chef.

I'll never forget the Sunday night I decided to make a savory soup for dinner. Lilly was by my side, as usual. She patiently stood on her chair and waited for me to chop all the vegetables--the salt and pepper shakers in her small four-year-old hands. Her job was to season the vegetables, then dump them into the pan of olive oil.

"Mom, what are we making?," she asked.

I explained to her that we were making soup. I described the process to her, showed her the various ingredients we would be adding to the pot, told her the wonderful names of all the seasonings, and even had her smell the Allspice.

"You can add the Italian seasoning to the chicken, if you want," I said to Lilly as I began to saute the onions. "I'll let you pour the chicken broth into the pot, too. You can help me stir everything together."

She grinned at me and happily said, "Okay."

The onion sizzled and the oil jumped and danced around in the pan--for a moment, those were the only sounds in my cozy kitchen. Lilly and I stood in silence, enjoying the warm aromas of vegetables and spices cooking on the stove top, enjoying the nearness of each other--her soft arm leaning against mine, her breath on my shoulder, my hands helping her hands with the spatula. My little sous-chef.

Suddenly, she turned to me, as if startled by a thought in her head. I saw perplexity on her face and in her bright eyes as she looked up and asked,

"Chicken bra?! Mom! What the heck is a chicken bra?!"

(Oh, Lilly! Never grow up!)


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