She only asked for one thing: money.
When Number 4 was little, like from the time she was born until she was about three years old, I’m pretty sure she had no idea she was a girl.
When she was about two years old, she asked me matter-of-factly when she was going to “grow her penis.”
She was pretty disappointed when my reply was, Ummm… Never.
She had three older brothers, and she was tough and loved to play with them and she appeared to be impervious to pain and she refused to wear skirts or dresses.
Eventually her hatred for skirts and dresses dissipated. But she never really cared about her clothing.
Not until about sixth grade.
This happened partially because she is just growing up, but also because middle school girls are brutal.
She told me a couple months ago after she had bought some clothing at Aeropostale with the babysitting money she had earned that “Now nobody will make fun of my clothes anymore.”
Most of the kids’ clothes are hand-me-downs from my friends’ kids. Number 4 was always happy to get them.
Until the girls at school started giving her a hard time.
This made me so sad. And mad.
Because Number 4 had always been the kind of kid who didn’t give a rat’s a$$ about what other people thought.
And now she did care.
But in addition to several middle school girls being not so nice to her, in the last year or so, she has also just developed a genuine interest in fashion and clothing. She definitely knows what she likes and what she doesn’t like.
And what she likes and what I like are totally not the same things. It turns out that I am no longer very good at picking out clothes that are Number 4-approved.
So I was more than happy to give Number 4 the very impersonal gift of money for her birthday.
Because in addition to the money, for her birthday she really wanted to go to the mall and go shopping.
But she didn’t just want to go shopping. She wanted to go shopping “alone.” Without me.
Like a real grown up.
Anyone who knows me knows I do not love the mall. Or shopping. So I was not offended that she did not want to shop with me.
But I’m not ready to drop my twelve-year-old off at the mall alone just yet.
She didn’t want to go alone, though.
She wanted to go with her BFF.
Number 4 and her BFF met in preschool. They were in the same class together when they were three years old.
But at that time, Number 5 was a newborn and I was pregnant with Number 6 and we had just moved to town in the last year so I was a little overwhelmed.
I didn’t really have any friends, and I didn’t know any of the other parents (or kids) in her class.
One day at the end of the school year, Number 4 received a letter in the mail.
Like an actual old fashioned letter.
It was a hand drawn picture from a girl in her class. I learned from the girl’s mom that she had drawn it and declared, “I want to send this to [Number 4].”
And that was the beginning of a friendship that is now nine years old for both Number 4 and her BFF and for me and her BFF’s parents.
In nine years of school, Number 4 and her BFF have never been in the same class together. Not even in middle school.
But still, they remain super close.
The school year gets busy and Number 4’s afternoons are consumed with swimming and school work and our weekends are full of swim meets and her BFF has her stuff going on so they usually talk less and less as the school months roll on, and then when the weather starts to warm up and summer approaches, they reconnect.
Every single year.
So last week Number 4 came home from school and said, “Mom, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I really want to go shopping with [My BFF].”
We had no school on Wednesday because it was Yom Kippur, so we planned a day of shopping for the two of them.
I brought them to the mall, and they had about four hours to do whatever they wanted.
Number 4 was so excited leading up to Wednesday that she hardly slept at all on Tuesday night.
As we drove to pick up her BFF she said, “Mom, this is literally THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE.”
I talked to the two of them in the car about not talking to any people asking them to “come look at something” or “help them with something” (or whatever), we came up with a time to meet and check in, and then they went on their way.
I was happy for Number 4. She was SO EXCITED.
But boy is it hard for me to fully grasp how quickly she is growing up.
It’s just flying by.
I’m happy she and her BFF still have each other’s backs as they navigate this often difficult stage of life they are entering.
And I really hope in nine more years I can take another picture just like this one as they enter the next stage of their life together.