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Following a daughter to another stage of life

When asked about it on my fifth birthday, I replied, "Five nyears old," proudly displaying all the digits on my right hand.

At five years old, I had wavy blond locks, with tender baby curls framing my face. My belly pooched like that of pregnant cat, a week overdue; so much so that my parents affectionately dubbed me, "Miss Tub."

And I promised to never, ever, ever, never leave them; to never, never, ever, ever get married and have children of my own. I pledged a solemn oath to live in their garage, work as an artist, and take care of them in their old age.

My daddy scooped that sweetness up with a ladle and drizzled it on his pancakes

Starting that day, he always called me, "A child of five nyears," even after I turned 15. Even now. On each consecutive birthday, he threatened to put bricks on my head to keep me, "Five nyears old forever." I always went along with it, happy to get the attention, but I never completely understood why he was hipped on that line.

Until now.

Just like me, my 5 year-old daughter has blond ringlet curls forming spiraled springs on the edges of her hairline. She lisps through the space where two bottom teeth once lived. We fondly call her, "Miss Girl." And she has made me a sincere guarantee similar to the one I made my parents.

"Do all girls have to get married," she asked.

"Of course not," I told her.

"Daddy says someday I will want to get married and leave y'all, but I won't."


"I'm not ever getting married or having babies or any of that stuff," she assured me.

"Well, what do you plan to do," I inquired.

"I want to grow up to be a princess, or I'll be a veterinarian and live here with you and daddy, in my same room, and go to the grocery store for you every week."

I wanted to yell, "Throw in the laundry, girl, and you gotta deal!" But I nodded contemplatively and said, "Okay. But I'll have to put bricks on your head."

While she crinkled her nose and pursed her lips in a defiant expression, I thanked my lucky eight-ball that, unlike a starving artist, a veterinarian might also have the means to support her aging parents.

Her plan, however, will never come to fruition. She'll doff her bricks when she discovers paths, all starting at our front door, that look too interesting to pass by without a peek.

Now I know why my daddy wanted me to remain a child of 5 nyears forever. It's a very special age in the life of a girl.

The Saturday before Mother's Day, my daughter turns 6. She and I stand at a turning point, where time firmly pushes us around the next corner.

Although I can't guess what the catty old gal has waiting for us, I do know what we leave behind. I will no longer purchase clothes sized with a T for toddler, but rather with an X for not a little kid any longer. She won't ever again hold up only one hand to show her age. And she will all but forget her ardent desire to dote upon her doddering ma and pa.

... Because five is a very special age.

But six, now six, is the first year of the rest of her life! The very beginning of something all new. And I just bet that six is a very extraordinary age, too.

Happy Birthday Miss Girl!

Web posted on Thursday, May 03, 2007

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