My tiny child with the round face and little straight bob with bangs just turned 11. Living with her in recent weeks has been as if her spirit suddenly decided to plug into the pre-teen ethernet that winds itself at light speed around all fifth-grade girls.
After years of wearing a tie for special events and being able to empty disturbing amounts of sand from her shoes each time she comes indoors (she actually still does this), B asked if she could raid my closet last night to put on a slinky white silk gown — the slip from my wedding dress. Her shy smile, the hair carefully pulled to one side, her growing figure — all stunning, even with socks and a good five inches of dress puddling on the ground.
And she has developed this intense need to talk to her school friends on the phone for as long as possible. It amazes her too. “Mom! I talked to Rose for AN HOUR!” And since all these girls have all plugged in together, I’ve been getting many, many one-sentence emails that have urgent content like “HI HOW ARE UUUUUUUU???????!!!!!!”, “WRITE ME BACK, OK!”, “DO U STILL LIKE ME!!!” We realized it was time to give her her own email. For her 11th birthday. A decision that I would have said needed to take at least several weeks of discussion and preparation was made in the space of a day.
More evidence: Six girls in a car at a stop light squeal at the top of their lungs when a prairie dog runs through the adjoining field. Prairie dogs are cute, but these girls have all lived here for years. It’s not a new sight. But they’ve never reacted en masse before — not a whole carload at a time. It was a silly moment, but I think I’m watching them grow into the deeper woman-link that they will have the rest of their lives; the link that makes women who live together get their periods at the same time; the link that makes it such a relief to talk to a girlfriend at any age, an hour at a time.
Happy birthday, sweetie.