Lord help me, y’all, I lost my mind.
In a moment of weakness, I agreed to let Lu celebrate her 9th birthday by inviting a few friends along for a “girls night out,” which she has had entirely planned out since her last birthday.
Like a lot of things (road trips, back to school shopping, becoming a parent), this seemed like a good idea for a little while. And just like the aforementioned activities, there comes a point when you realize how terribly wrong you were, and you wish for a time machine. Not to go back and make a different choice, but to go back and tell one-month-ago you that you’re an idiot, and maybe slap her right in her smug, overachiever face.
I texted five moms and asked if their daughters could come along on a very exciting night out that would include a gourmet dinner at the mall food court, followed by “exploring” the mall, then rollerskating. Four of the girls were able to join us, so including Lu, I had five giggly girls who hadn’t seen each other all summer.
Sweet Lu couldn’t contain her excitement and nervousness in the car. She explained that it was really important to her that all of her friends have a great time. I marveled at her concern for her friends, and her ability to be anxious about her own birthday party.
We got all the girls picked up, and the decibel level in my van increased with the number of girls contained within. We compared notes on summer vacations, who we hope our third grade teachers are and exactly how gross, on a scale of one to one million, boys are (ten million, in case you wondered).
We made it to the mall, and the girls found many opportunities to pose for photos, pretending to be “sassy teenagers.” That was an impressive display of duck face and attitude for five girls who haven’t yet learned long division.
After a scrumptious meal of Chik Fil A nuggets or Subway sandwiches, the party of five agreed that we had to continue acting like teenagers while we were at the mall, and that’s when I learned something new about what teenagers do. According to eight-year-olds, teens spend all of their free time shopping at Claire’s. The vote was unanimous, and we giggled and skipped our way to the accessories store of their dreams. One party guest even shared that her mom worked at Claire’s as a teen, and as you can imagine, that earned her major street cred.
Rather than spending money on favor bags, I told the girls they could choose something in Claire’s, and I gave them each a budget. There were plenty of items in the store within their budget, but they did have to think about what they could get, and narrow down choices. This was actually pretty cute, and took much longer than I could’ve guessed.
Sunglasses, no — a ring! Wait, there are some fake nails! Did you see the lip gloss?!? I NEED this necklace. I love this phone case, but I don’t have a phone.
On and on it went, until I told them I was paying in five minutes and if they weren’t finished, they’d miss the boat. Frantic consultations took place about the perfect accessories, and they all came in just under the wire.
After our shopping time, we headed to the Brentwood Skate Center. This was the first turning point, when my “sassy teenagers” turned back into sweet little girls. They were excited to skate, and a little scared that they would fall. They asked if I’d skate beside them, or even hold their hands for a couple of laps. We skated for a couple of hours, and when it was time to go, it was like the skates came off and the teenager facades came back. They were pretending to call their boyfriends on fake phones, they sang at the top of their lungs to Kidz Bop versions of Taylor Swift songs, and giggled about who likes who.
There have been so many reminders with Lu that the little girl days are coming to an end and the adolescent years are closing in. Her birthday party was the perfect analogy of how life is going right now — sweet little girl one moment, grumpy know-it-all the next. It was the perfect reminder to embrace what’s left of the sweetness and let her be little as long as I can.
Overheard at the salon: “Lord knows we wouldn’t want to discriminate against the devil.”
Julie Holt is a wife, mother of three, hair stylist, runner, reader, writer, and is tired. Very tired. She works in Brentwood, lives in Spring Hill and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Julie on Twitter @jh_lighter_side.