The Girl is my daughter. I call her The Girl because she is the only girl to me. I was tucking her in one evening, one of the few motherly things she deigns to let me still have, and we were discussing Christmas. This was a safe, neutral topic not likely to provoke an outburst followed by dramatic eye rolling and sighing. Although I am never sure what is safe anymore.
“Mom,” The Girl Said. It is impossible for The Girl to start a sentence without the word ‘Mom’ at the beginning, even when she is addressing her Dad. “I don’t want to go see Santa this year.”
“Are you sure? I love Santa.”
“I think I’m too old.”
“Well, I might go sit on Santa’s lap.”
“Yeah? Well I won’t be going with you then.” Eye roll. Sigh. I laughed. All I have to do to embarrass her is breathe, never mind sitting on Santa’s lap.
“Well, how about we walk around the mall and look at all the decorations and then get a manicure?” This provoked an enthusiastic response. Even though The Girl is not a girly girl, she is all about pampering.
Do you know the saying “Be careful what you ask for, you might get it”? My husband and I had been waiting a little impatiently for Santa to be over. Our daughter hung onto Santa longer than most kids and with a conviction that made me think I would be stuffing her stocking secretly when she was 21. Santa was starting to be a little inconvenient. We wanted to travel during the holidays, but couldn’t because there was such concern about Santa finding us. The Girl seemed to doubt that even though he could magically fly around the world and deliver toys to millions of children in a night, that Santa’s magic did not extend to being able to find her in a different house, even if I emailed him to let him know.
I looked at The Girl with her budding breasts and newly curvy figure. Her pajama bottoms were too short because she had shot up and was well over five feet tall. I now had to jealously guard my shoes. I realized with a pang of regret that Santa was gone. That the magic of childhood went with him. That things were ordinary now and there was no hope of ever going back. I knew for sure that The Girl was already leaving me.
I hugged The Girl tight that night and snuck a kiss onto the freshly washed hair. She sighed and rolled her eyes. As I turned off the lights, I said a tiny prayer that she would let me keep tucking her in for a while. As I walked downstairs it occurred to me that, even though she would always be The Girl to me, very, very soon she would be The Woman to everyone else.