This week will retain a historical significance as the start of the Louisianan Revolution.
The bloodless coup went down in the living room of our home as the Maiden asserted her independence from the surely scheming attempts of her parents to help her with something or other. Namely, she declared this truth to be self-evident: she is a BIG GIRL, and she can do everything all by herself.
I have a sudden empathy for King George III.
As part of ongoing negotiations between the fledgling fighter and her despotic parents, new rules have been established.
First, we are not, ever, to refer to her as “baby,” “baby doll,” “little Maiden,” “little girl,” or anything other than “BIG.” Nor are our allies– teachers, relatives, or friendly people at the supermarket– allowed to use similarly inflammatory terminology.
Also, we are not permitted to tell her she is “too little” for something. She is not little, she is BIG. And we can’t just substitute, “When you’re BIGger;” she needs to know the exact age at which she’ll be able to cut onions with a sharp knife, measure and pour her own medicine, run the food processor, or use the bathroom cleaning spray unsupervised. Usually, we settle on age sixteen as the magic number.
Except, of course, where dating is concerned. She has to wait until she’s 35 for that.
In addition, unasked-for help is utterly verboten. Whether it’s a tussle with the mustard bottle or an alligator chewing her ankle, we have to stand by, passively observing until our aid is specifically and directly requested. She is BIG, you know, and BIG GIRLS can deal with their problems on their own. In other words, we must wait until she’s dissolved into frantic sobs of despair, grief, or ankle-lessness before our input is welcome. And then, of course, we have to wait some more, because I will not shower attention on a BIG GIRL who refuses to use her words and whines like a one-year-old (although I might make an exception if the hungry gator is eyeing her knee).
I’m not sure what brought about this sudden desire for independence. It might be partially our own fault, as we’ve always encouraged her to learn by doing. We just didn’t expect her to desire emancipation at age three-and-a-half. And I’m torn. Part of me is amused by her desperate efforts to show us she’s a BIG girl, all grown up and ready to take on the world. Part of me is impressed that she really is willing and able to make her own lunch for school, for example. But a part of me is a tiny bit sad. Kids grow up, and that’s a good thing– but it’s bittersweet. I want her to grow and become independent. I just wish she’d do it later!
Someday, when the Maiden really is grown up, we’ll look back on all this together. When I hear her laugh over her own silliness, I’ll know it’s finally safe to tell her: no matter how BIG she is, she’ll always be my baby!