Eleven years ago, my second child was born. Dani was my easiest labor and delivery of all of my children. Going from one to two children at home was a fairly easy transition. I remember looking at Craig about ten days into it and we both said, “Whoa, this time is so much easier!”
And it was.
|The shirt, hat and boots were birthday shopping treasures from Grandma|
For one thing, we’d done this whole parenting of a newborn thing and so we knew what to expect. We knew that if Dani cried longer than thirty seconds, life was not going to end. We knew that she’d eventually sleep all night (actually, she began doing this very quickly…about 3 weeks old) and we knew that trying to get her to eat cereal at 4 months old wasn’t necessarily the ticket to that full night of sleep.
Being Dani’s mom has been easier on me than being Sarah’s mom. I have mentioned before how different everything is for the oldest kid. It seems there is a microscope to examine every decision with the oldest child to see if it is right or wrong so that we can adjust, if needed, for the younger children. Something I have learned in thirteen years of motherhood is that there’s not much I can do about that — there’s a part of me that knows I can’t stop it no matter how hard I try. With Dani, the same can be said for how much pressure is lifted. Because I’ve over-analyzed my decisions before, I know it’s not worth it and I simply allow things to happen with Dani much more than I can ever seem to do with Sarah. (This is a benefit all the younger children seem to enjoy.)
With Dani, I don’t think about whether it’s time to have “the talk” with her, knowing she probably has all the information she needs already, courtesy of a big sister. I don’t think about Dani going off to college or hitting that point in her life nearly as much as I do with Sarah, and even then, I don’t think all that hard about the logistics of it. I just figure it will happen when it happens and we’ll figure it out at the time.
I think Dani’s personality reflects this more laid-back attitude in that she enjoys living in the moment. Of all my kids, she is the one that I think enjoys being whatever age she is, or fully lives every experience of the grade she is in school. I love that about her. And she’s always been that way. Just last year, I thought I should address some more “grown-up” topics with Dani and as I led into the conversation, she simply said, “Mom, I don’t need to know that stuff — I’m just a kid!!”
|Her first heat winner this summer was classic! She was EXCITED!!|
It’s hard to think of Dani being eleven years old for a couple of reasons. First of all, the time flies so quickly…it’s hard to believe we’ve experienced this many years of that girl. Secondly, kids (especially girls) seem to grow up so quickly these days; it almost seems like age eleven is a more mature age than I see in Dani. She is still quite taken with Taylor Swift, and what some might call “little girl fiction” (as opposed to trying to jump into Young Adult Lit) and prefers her girl friendships and eschews anything that is remotely close to a boyfriend. Yet, I read articles that about how to handle Tween dating and I hear from my doctor that it’s not uncommon for girls to be sexually active at this age (usually in other socio-economic or different home situations). My Dani is so innocent with regard to that!
|One of my favorite recent pictures with Dani (and with her cousin, Jenna)|
I think I like to forget about those sorts of things because Dani enjoys being a kid. She enjoys her innocence and she doesn’t try to figure things out that will rob her of it. I remember at Christmastime last year, I took her to see “Saving Mr. Banks” (Spoiler alert) and the part where the flash back included the girl’s mother wading out into the lake and she might drown herself…and the girl was following her trying to stop her — I was so worried that scene would end in such a way I’d have to have a talk with Dani about adult depression and suicide right then. The scene was saved (in a sense) and the movie didn’t go all the way there. But some other things have happened to bring that about anyway in the last few months. I worry about having to talk to Dani about those things because she relishes her innocence. Not many girls these days recognize when they are innocent and work to protect it. But my Dani does.
So, as she turns eleven, I hope she continues to enjoy this last year before middle school. I know that the day will come when her surroundings and experiences will chip away at that innocence. Somehow, I have a peace knowing that as it happens, she will be ready. Because that’s how she rolls.