It’s the familiar slow, belabored steps of a toddler in adult high heels. Enormous effort and equal pride in each step, my girl is a princess today, or maybe a pop star, a teacher, the POTUS, or maybe just pretending to be Mommy by wearing my clothes.
clip clip, clip clip
Her steps shorten to a shuffle to keep my shoes on her feet, now big enough to hold them on when she grips her toes tight. She is a bit more frustrated with the effort now that she’s a first grader and knows all about life. Her spectacular visions of adulthood are clearer now, and when she looks in the mirror, it’s not just a game of dress-up anymore; she sees that doctor/dancer/pastor/teacher (always teacher) looking back at her.
plunk, plunk, plunk
I didn’t buy these shoes. Wedge booties that are cuter than anything I own…well, that’s just too grown for my eight-year-old! But her aunt couldn’t resist, and my girl’s exuberance was totally worth it. Now that she has grown-up shoes in her own size, she spends every free minute standing in front of her white board looking like a real teacher. She points her pen at the board and has her brothers repeat math fact and grammar rules as she struts around her room checking their imaginary work.
puhp pat, puhp pat
The sound of my bare feet searching all over the house for my dressy sandals. Not in my closet, not under my bed, not in the bin by the door. Where in the world did I put them? When my 5th grader walks in from the bus stop, it all makes sense: she took my shoes. She’s barely a kid anymore — a full-on preteen, she likes to remind me — and her dreams are taking shape. She doesn’t have to pretend to be a teacher when she reads to her brothers and helps them with homework. She doesn’t have to pretend to be a musician when she sits at guitar lessons and plays her favorite songs. She doesn’t have to pretend to be grown when, in so many ways, she’s already mostly there.