Isabella is the baby. She is six and three quarters, sure, but in many ways she is still very much my baby and in some ways is so stereotypical of how you’d expect the youngest child to be. I often see my mom interacting with my baby brother (at almost 27, he’s hardly a baby but yet, he’ll always be the baby) and I see it so clearlyâ€”this distinct combination of dependence coupled right alongside independence due to a sort-of survival-of-the-fittest factor, if that makes sense.
She is the kid who still cries every Sunday night when the babysitter shows up, even though she knows that this happens every single week and she is fully aware that we are not abandoning her. She asked a friend to teach her how to tie her shoes because, well, we forgot that shoe-tying is one of those skills we needed to teach her. She and I have a ten-minute long cuddle before I help dress her every morning while her brother and sister are self-sufficiently getting themselves ready for school. She laughs off bumps and bruisesâ€”she falls down, she gets back up, dusts off her tutu and keeps going. She is the kid who willed a tooth out of her headâ€”one that was not ready to come outâ€”just so she could have a tooth fairy like her siblings.
Dependence and independence. At the same time.
She’s such a little girl, still. She plays with baby dolls and barbies and likes to sit and do arts and crafts and snuggle. She still thinks light-up shoes are awesome. She loves the park. Fart jokes are always funny. She always has holes in her socks and she’s always covered head-to-toe in something messy. He hair is always unbrushed. She still would prefer a twoonie to a $5 bill, because the twoonie is more special-looking. She is terrified of ants.
But then, sometimes, I look at her, and I see her arms and legs getting longer and leanerâ€”there’s not an ounce of baby fat left anywhere on her, not even on her cheeks. I see how her taste in television has matured from cartoons to iCarly. She rides a two-wheeler with no fear and complete gusto. She swims in the deep end of the pool. She skipped over two levels in figure skating. She adds and subtracts. She reads chapter books. She knows every word to every song on the radio right now.
WHO LET THIS CHILD GROW UP?
And how do I make it stop?