Some days, she's a superhero. She is brave and powerful and crafty. A force. And some days she is tangled up inside with new feelings of doubt and worth and the need to fit.
I send her to school in the mornings, and I sometimes forget that school isn't all about academics. There are social structures to scale and friendships to build. There are kids of varying degrees of maturity, and there are kids who notice differences. Kids who pay attention if a tiny little girl hugs and kisses her mom at the classroom door each morning. They tag pig-tails as babyish and cartwheels as the key to success.
And Mia is still so little. She still wears pig-tails. She hasn't yet mastered the cartwheel. She clings for a last hug before I leave her at the door. I've clung, too. Her baby-sweetness hides behind her ears and around her narrow shoulders, and I seek it out. She is so little. Her heart is so little.
But it's big enough to break. Her heart is big enough to register hurts and slights. She can see the girls who are confident and grown-up before their time. Those girls are somebody's baby, too, but they seem so much more....I don't know what. First-graders are the new fifth-graders, maybe.
Only, Mia is truly only six years old, through and through. She pretends and sings and needs to have bad dreams chased away at night. Her favorite teddy bear waits in the back seat of the car until school is out each afternoon. And I cannot tell you exactly how much I love her innocence. I love it because the world spins so fast. I love it because time will pile up under us until it's bigger than our memories. I love her innocence because I know it will fade.
Its transience makes it precious and I see myself hoarding small bits of it. A giggle here. A mispronounced word there. A pile of extra kisses at bedtime.
But the world wants her to be grown up rightnow, and she feels it. When somebody won't play with her at recess because she's 'just a little kid', she feels it. They are the same in age, but separated by expectations and experience and attitude.
I'm tempted to help her find ways to fit in -- to leave the babyness hidden with blankies at home, so she won't have to fight through cliques or shuns or embarrassments. I think about popular music and clothes and movies, and part of me wants to usher her towards those things. Only, I keep going back to her fleeting, precious, six-year-old spirit.
I love her just like this, and I love her possibilities, and I love her superhero heart. I hold tight to the hope that the more I accept her as she is right now, the more she will accept about herself when those last wisps of babyhood blow away into the wind. And I'm certain I'll feel the need to chase after them with a butterfly net, then, so I'll leave them right where they are for now: trailing behind her as she rids the world of evil with her superhero heart.