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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Growing Up

There are moments when I see just how much my children have grown and begin to understand how quickly their time as babies is flying by. It was today at Monkey Joe's, a nearby indoor inflatable playground, that I last had one of these moments- what an awkward place to be as the realization brought tears to my eyes. It was there on some inflatable contraption that my three-year old, Ava Grace, made a friend. According to Ava Grace, her name was Jetta, a pretty little Indian girl who was probably 3 or 4 years old. Before Jetta came along, Ava Grace was asking me to hold her hand and go down the slides with her. Now, she no longer needed my assistance. Jetta would help her, because Jetta knew just what to do. The two of them dodged the big kids and tumbled down the slides together for a good portion of the late morning. They shared a snack, laughed together, and they even got in trouble together when Ava Grace followed Jetta's lead as she tried to climb up the slide. No longer the center of Ava Grace's little world, I stood outside the bouncy room as I watched the girls jump as Will, my younger son, tottered along behind them. It was then that she walked up to the mesh wall with her face pressed almost to mine and whispered, "I love you, Mommy." I think she knew I needed a little reassurance as I watched my little baby becoming a big girl right before my eyes.

On the way home, I asked her, "What was your favorite part of today?" She said, "Playing with Jetta." I asked, "Was there any part that you didn't like?" Her reply, "When Jetta told me that we were bad girls for scaring the kids off of the slide." I don't know exactly what she was talking about and can't imagine Ava Grace scaring anyone off of a slide (considering everyone was older than she was), but I felt a slight twinge of agitation towards this Jetta for telling my little girl that she was a bad girl.

I know there will be moments in Ava Grace's life when she hears and witnesses things far worse than innocent ramblings of a 3-year-old child. In those instances, I wish I could wrap my arms around her and shield her from the cruel ways of the world. As I watched her chasing after Jetta, I wondered what types of crowds she'll follow when she's a little older. I hope by then that I've given her the tools to choose good friends, make smart decisions, and know when to ask for help. Until then, I'll take every chance I can get to hold her hand as she drags me to the top of yet another slide, steal a high-five in celebration of our arrival at the bottom, and anxiously await her, "I love you, Mommy's".
Written by Kristin Dittl, a member of YorkCountyMommies.

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