Michelle Martin

Double digits

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Teresa turned 10 years old this month, making it the first time in almost 22 years we haven’t had a child under 10 at home.

While hitting the one-decade mark doesn’t come with any big privileges — forget driving or voting; she’s still a couple of years away from sitting in the front seat of the car — it still matters a great deal to the fourth-grade set.

If you’ve made it out of the single-digit years, can the teens be far behind?

(The answer to that is no, no matter how many parents want to live in denial.)

For me, the biggest thing is reflecting on how fast it has all gone. It seems like just yesterday she was a baby, but now she is older than Frank was when she was born. She didn’t want toys for her birthday; she wanted to redecorate her room. She also wants to give a portion of her birthday money to bush fire relief in Australia.

Then again, that might be a function of all the spaces she’s planned in various video games. Too bad moving walls in real life isn’t as easy.

As long as she has a place not just to sleep, but also to hang out with friends and read or draw or even play video games, it will be good. Especially since the redecoration meant taking time to go through old toys and clothes that she no longer uses.

Never fear, the toys won’t be permanently banished yet. They’ll get put away for a while, somewhere she can pull them out from time to time when she’s feeling nostalgic. One day, in a few years, she’ll realize she hasn’t even thought about them since before she can remember, and some little girl will get a treasure trove of Barbies and Bitty Baby dolls. I’ll keep a couple of them, though, to remember when she carried them all over.

One day, it will be time to put away childish things for good.

But not quite yet. This year, when our oldest will graduate from college and our second child went away to start his college career, our youngest still wants to play. She just wants a slightly more grown-up place to do it.

She’s learning that growing up doesn’t mean an end to play, either. One of the highlights of the holiday season was seeing her sit down to play board games, sometimes the whole family together, sometimes just the three kids and whatever friends were around.

As Teresa embarks on her second decade, I can’t wait to see what’s in store: high school, college, decisions about what activities and interests to pursue, what to study, even what to give up. Caroline was thrilled to get passed out of any college math based on her high school record; Frank was glad he didn’t have to take any college English.

All I know for sure is that it will go by way too fast.


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