Reminders of growing up

June 9, 2017

By Ekta R. Garg

This week I received three tangible signs that brought into sharp focus just how much my older child has grown up.

First, there was the incident with the glasses.

Ten has worn glasses about three years now, and her eyesight has weakened a bit every year since she first went to the optometrist. Interestingly enough, this is one of the few doctor’s appointments I didn’t attend. Ten and Eight’s dad came home early from the hospital and offered to take her, and when my husband pitches in to help I don’t question it.

This year, yet again, Ten’s prescription changed, so off the entire family went to Sam’s to pick out new frames for her. She and Eight spent a few minutes playing with the various frame options, but after a little while Ten, my husband, and I got to the business at hand. Her dad found this pair of frames that were in her favorite color (purple) and looked good on her face, so we made it a unanimous decision and placed our order.

Earlier this week, I got a call from Sam’s that Ten’s glasses had come in. On Wednesday after camp, the kids and I had lunch and then we began our afternoon jaunt to pick up the glasses. Ten had been waiting with a great deal of eagerness ever since we ordered them, as much to get new frames as for the fact that she’d be able to see again, and I was glad the call had come because (quite frankly) I was tired of her asking me.

We got settled in the eye department at the store and the lady took Ten’s glasses out of a locked case. She brought them over and instructed Ten to put them on. Ten dutifully took off the old glasses and put on the new ones.

Suddenly my entire perspective of her shifted.

You would think, since I was there when she picked them out, that I wouldn’t be so shocked when I saw them on her. But these frames and glasses looked so different from the previous two pairs that I had to pull a Mom move on myself. I had to remind myself that it’s not polite to stare, never mind that it would be at my own child.

Her previous two frames, also purple, had curlicues on the arms and little metal hearts. When Ten first got her glasses, they made her look older. With these new frames, she looks grown up. The simple, clean lines of the soft rectangles somehow open up her face in a whole new way for me.

She no longer looks like my little girl who wears glasses; now she looks like a young lady.

The second instance happened after the trip to Sam’s. We stopped in the grocery store to pick up a few supplies for dinner that night. Somehow we got sidetracked, the three of us girls, and we found ourselves looking at new flip flops and sandals. Ten’s old flip flops had started to look like she’d borrowed them from Eight, and even though she’s never complained about the old ones I decided to buy her new ones.

We started in the kids’ department, but we couldn’t find a pair to fit her. Even the kids’ size 5 didn’t do the job. So I steered us to the women’s department, reasoning that surely a 6 would do it. But it didn’t. Neither did a 7.

Inhaling a sigh of resignation, I asked Ten to look for a size 8.

The size 8 just fits her now. In fact, when we came home and everyone collected in the evening on the back patio, my husband wondered aloud whether even the size 8 flip flops were a smidge small. And I looked down at Ten’s feet again.

The size 8 looked fine to me. I did my level best to ignore the fact that they didn’t come from the kids’ department. But my husband couldn’t quite grasp it.

“Did these really come from the women’s department?” he asked, amazed.

I nodded while wondering what exactly this is supposed to mean. I mean, I wear a 7.5. Most of her other shoes run around a 4.5 to 5 in kids. So what do I make of the fact that she’s wearing women’s flip flops too big for even me?

It didn’t help that while we shopped for shoes, Ten looked down at her feet and said, “My feet are just long, that’s all.”

Speaking of things bigger than me, the biggest shock this week came from a piece of string.

At the beginning of fifth grade, all the kids in Ten’s class put together personal mini time capsules. They took paper towel tubes to school and filled them with pieces of paper listing their favorites—books; movies; TV shows; singers; etc.—as well as their thoughts for the school year that had just begun. The teacher also measured each child’s height with a piece of string, cutting the string to match the height and allowing the kids to ball up the string and stuff it in the cardboard tube along with everything else.

Ten brought home the tube with glee.

“Look at this,” she said, pulling out the string. She held it up and let it stretch to its full length. Then she stepped on the bottom tip with her toe and pulled the string taut.

It came just above her chin.

In this one school year, my child has grown five inches.

I wanted to email her teacher and ask whether she might have made a mistake while measuring Ten. It’s not humanly possible for people to grow that much in a year…is it? And, surely, it’s not possible for kids to grow so much, period.

Is it?

I guess I know the answer to that one, really, I do, but I’m afraid to utter it.


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