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Hey, don’t write yourself off yet
It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on
Just try your best, try everything you can
And don’t you worry what they tell themselves when you’re away

It just takes some time
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be just fine
Everything, everything will be alright, alright

My baby girl is getting bigger.  It’s unavoidable of course.  It started the day she was born and has been progressing with alarming speed ever since.  She turned 11 in December.  She has started showing small signs of puberty.  She gets moody and weepy in a frightening foreshadowing of life with another emotional female in the house.  She sometimes resents me, particularly, telling her what to do and/or how to do it.  She will be in middle school next fall.

But at the same time, she’s still such a little girl.  She’s afraid of everything…the dark, loud noises, tests.  She is a total Mommy-and-Daddy’s girl and still loves to please us.  She loves to play with her sister and brother and cousins and still can make up fantastic made up stories and games.  She’s not really interested in boys and giggles when I try to have “the talk” with her.  She refuses to go to bed without Bill and I tucking her in.

She’s totally “In the Middle”, like that song I just quoted by Jimmy Eat World.

It’s a weird place to be for her.  She mentioned to me sometime last spring that she’d noticed most of her friends weren’t playing with Barbie dolls any more.  What did she buy herself this Christmas with her Target gift card??  Another Barbie.  She loves her American Girl and baby dolls still, but most of her friends don’t have those.  Most of her friends are starting to be more interested in One Direction (whom she looks on with derision, good girl) and shopping at Justice and playing with their iPod Touch.  Sure, she does like to shop.  She does like playing on my iPod touch or her DS or my phone or the computer.  But those things aren’t first to jump to her mind.  I love that last night she and her younger sister were cuddled together in the bottom bunk having a sleepover.  I love that she is totally willing to play with her little brother.  I love that when she gets together with her closest cousins that they just play and play and play for hours on end and get pretty upset about having to leave one another.

I know these days are numbered and I hate it.

Today there was an “Adventure Barbie” activity at the library.  It was a day off of school and it was something you had to sign up for ahead of time.  Julia brought home the flyer and pointed it out and was definitely interested in going.  You brought your Barbie and did crafts and stuff.  The ages were 5-10.  I fudged her age.  I figured she was close enough.  And she really wanted to go.

But…

We get to the library and its clear most of the girls attending are younger.  Julia’s Barbie was hidden furtively under her coat.  I could see her looking around, checking to see if anyone she knew from school was there.  I could tell she was embarrassed.  I didn’t say anything.  Just stood with her and waited til they went into the activity room and got started.  She didn’t relax until she headed in there and got behind closed doors.

She had fun…of course she did.  She loves to play Barbies and she loves crafts.  She made little wooden furniture for her dolls.  She dressed her Barbie in some sort of duct-tape getup.  They made little Barbie boats out of empty soda bottles.  She had a blast.  But as we were heading to the car she said, thoughtfully “I’m pretty sure I was the oldest one in there…”

She’s growing up.  I hate it.  I hate that it is going to be hard.  I hate that there are going to be days when she feels left out.  And scared.  And lost.  And lonely.  And maybe she is going to hate herself somedays like I did (do).  She is going to realize life is so much harder than it looks like from the eyes of a kid.  Maybe she will be mad at me for even bringing her into this crazy world.  But she is such a beautiful girl.  I am so proud of her.  And I know I will be proud of her and will see her through getting her period, her license, her first boyfriend, high school and college and whatever else comes her way as she continues to grow.  And I hope she can keep some of that beautiful child full of fun and joy and silliness when everyone around her is serious and hip and cool.  I hope she plays with those Barbies for a little bit longer.

Hey, you know they’re all the same
You know you’re doing better on your own, so don’t buy in
Live right now, yeah, just be yourself
It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough for someone else

It just takes some time
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be just fine
Everything, everything will be alright, alright

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