It is now Thursday at 1:30 a.m. and the dryer is finished. In the load of laundry is my other daughter's (who is the oldest and is six) blue checkered uniform skirt, maroon knee-high socks, white short-sleeve standard issue shirt, with school emblem and maroon sweater now washed and dried for “school dress day” later this morning for her participation in her advancing to the first grade celebration. I’m up at this early hour because my oldest said yesterday after dinner, “Papa, I can’t wear my jumper anymore. I’m a big girl now and I want to use my skirt (I’m not even sure that’s the special name for it, but it looks like a skirt to me)…My teacher said, we need to be extra clean tomorrow because we’re going to the first grade.” Taking her little face in both hands, I told her how much I am proud of her, now that she is such a big girl and so smart she is ready for the first grade (Of course I held back the tears of pride and joy of her accomplishment).
Each of my daughters exclaims in her own way that simple statement of an emerging identity and I am concurrently proud as can be and saddened that the stress of it all doesn’t last just a little longer. I want small shoes to fit a little longer. I want clothes to stay big so I have to cuff pants and roll up sleeves. I want their struggle to find letters, sounding out words and putting numbers together to last just a little longer. I find myself trying to embed every memory in my brain so these wonderful moments don’t slip away unnoticed or unappreciated.