Once upon a time I had a 3 year old, a two year old, and a new born. There was nothing else I could think about. It was a time filled with present mindedness because some sort of emergency was always happening; or some basic human need was always being met (by me). Lacking rest and recuperation, I often felt myself dragging through the days and nights, blurring calendar edges as if there were no end to the monotonous routine of a "newish" mom. It was in these times when I used all of my free moments to fantasize about the future. A future filled with eight and nine year olds...
To me, eight and nine year olds were "grown up kids", the ideal representation of what we all envision kids to be. Running free; drinking Sunny Delight; having an unabashed excitement about birthday parties, and living in tree-houses (part time).The ideal age of innocence and independence... real for real kids.
Eight. Nine. The last single digits before 10. Two digits- a world that many of us live, love, experience, and then die in. When I was eight and nine, I walked home from school; I could cook simple meals; I played outside unsupervised; I knew where babies came from; I still used my imagination; and I knew that Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy weren't "real" but I believed anyway because I was afraid not to. Most of my vivid, "childhood" memories are of being eight and nine. I was self aware, I was capable of self definition, I remember having my own ideas and beliefs and truths. I was a real for real kid.
In my weakest mothering moments I'd catch glimpses of my future. The universe whispered, "Just hold tight, it's going to be amazing, I promise". While pushing kids in baby swings I'd see kids laughing and swinging on their own, a mother on her smartphone- there but not- "just a little longer" she'd nod. I'd leaned in to kiss a baby strapped in a Baby Bjorn and I'd drift off to the land of eight and nine year olds; a magical place where no one hung off my body for survival. I'd sneak into the "Girls" section at Target and look at the clothes, they were so big. They had no "T" for toddler after the sizes. Cool art concepts on the front, replaced the cutesy baby sayings of "Grandma Spoils Me" and "Daddy's Girl"... While stacking boxes of Pull ups, and size 5 and size 1 diapers into my cart at Costco, I'd fondly drift into a future that was diaper free. A future of real underwear. A future of people emerging from rooms completely dressed; a place where fashionable choices were made without me...
"One day," I'd whisper to myself, "One day".
It's not that I didn't fully enjoy and appreciate babies and toddlers, every stage has it's magical moments. There's just something monumental about eight and nine. It's as if you've come to this peak where you realize your "baby" isn't really a baby, they're a full blown kid that still needs you but in a very different way. Eight. Nine. The age before ten, two digits.
So as I transition to the promised land of eight and nine (and eventually ten), I think about this perfect balance of innocence and independence. The last golden hurrah of the little girl years. This brief moment of girlhood devoid of worry and puberty. A place where boys still suck and you see your potential as infinite. No, I won't spend these days in the future, I'll spend these short-lived days in the present, in the land of eight and nine.
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working to make life more equitable for all people. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.