I'm not sure how it happened, but she's seven. Seven. Sometime last summer, she began to lose the little girl that she's been for years now. There is no little girl left. She has entered big girl territory. It is marked most obviously by her physical appearance. But it is also marked by less obvious, but more important things like an awesome sense of humor (with occassional lapses into bad knock-knock jokes or something so weird or goofy you can only pull out your best fake laugh then try to make a quick get away), an increasing awareness of how the world works---the good, the bad, and the ugly. She does double digit addition and reads chapter books. A fourth grade boy sweetly complimented her. He was flirting. I saw it. I know flirting and that was it. Fully and completely age-appropriate (at least for him). I saw my future. Or more to the point, I saw hers.
At her parent-teacher conference, her teachers said they wanted to keep her forever. Just kindergarten/first grade, and Ava. Because she will be in second grade next year. I know. Me too. She is a lovely kid. And as we began this next journey of big girlhood with her, I wish for her a solid sense of who she is and her place in our family and an unwavering knowledge of her inherent worthiness in a world that attempts to give young girls messages about what makes them valuable. I hope we can walk with her side by side, knowing that from now on we will be letting her go a little more each day. But we have been doing that all along. It just feels bigger now, as we watch her make the slow changes that will eventually lead her to her teenage years and beyond. On her birthday, Erik said, "She's been with us a long time." For as much as we've taught her, she has taught us to parent. To be adaptable and patient, to be ready for the unexpected, to be ready to acknowledge that your children are who they are and it sometimes has very little to do with you. And that letting go a little every day is neccessary.