My sister in law called the other day to sob (a little) about her 18-year-old son and his high school graduation. This kid was five when I started dating his uncle, so while I might not be facing the reality of a full grown adult and wondering when my baby turned into this capable person ready to take on the world, I totally understood the Where the Hell Has the Time Gone sentiment. Because really? That thing about the, growing up too fast is only a cliche when you are talking about someone else's kid.
It might not be a fair comparison, but I immediately looked at my own growing baby. Buttercup will soon be four years old. She's a far cry from the six-pound newborn I brought home from the hospital. Gone is the little cherub baby face and the awkwardly adorable toddler gait and the gummy smile. It's all been replaced with the face of a little girl who walks and runs like a little girl and that memory of the gummy smile she once had is playing tricks with my mind as she sits with her fingers in her mouth trying to gently wiggle loose the tooth that seems to be hanging on by a thread.
I asked her if she wanted me to tug it out for her. It's almost there, anyway, and when she pushes it out far enough with her tongue, I can see into her gum cavity where the shiny white newness of her first adult tooth is still waiting to be born. She told me no. She's not ready to be a big girl yet and can we please just let it fall out on it's own? When it's ready?
I sometimes ask her to please stop growing. If only for a moment. Usually she takes me literally and laughs, telling she she can't not grow. It's what kids do, for goodness sake. But this time, I didn't have to ask. My little baby has given me a reprieve, however slight, allowing us both a little more time to process the reality of the coming tomorrow.