Beyond Five - The Realisation That She's Not A Baby Anymore
How Turning Six Changed My Daughter from Baby to Big Girl
Becoming a parent is a weird and wonderful thing that is largely lived through 'stages' and 'phases'. As a new parent, you dread things like the 'teething stage', the 'terrible twos' and the 'threenager'. But nobody really talks about the stage that seems to kick in as your child heads beyond the age of five.
At five, your child is largely independent, busy and, if anything like MY child, chatty. They're in that first year of what I and many other mums considered to be 'proper' school, though it's still pretty much play-based learning most of the time. They're starting to read, and they can write much more than just their name. They've fully developed their own little personalities - complete with various quirks, formed the basis of strong friendship groups and are much more understanding of social rules (even though they regularly ignore them). BUT, they are still little ones. Still your little kiddiewinks; your babies.
And then SIX happens.
They're heading into Year Two at school - a year which, in the UK, heralds their first standardised tests (the dreaded SATs). Now, it's much more sitting at desks and actual learning. There's more concentration required (something my daughter does not possess unless it involves food), and they're really getting stuck into the 'big' subjects like English, Maths, Science and History - it's not just Phonics and Numbers anymore. Another massive growth spurt has happened overnight, and suddenly that cute, cuddly little thing is over half your size (not difficult when you are vertically challenged like me) and won't touch any item of clothing bearing the image of Peppa Pig with a barge pole. The change in height also heralds a change in attitude - they're BEHAVING older, and expect you to treat them as such. My daughter, Lucy, now regularly informs me that she is a 'big girl', and is perfectly capable of doing most things without me. Not only does she not need my help (mostly), she doesn't WANT it. What she DOES want is makeup, shoes with heels, a leather jacket and a pastel coloured backpack that does not feature any fairies, unicorns or any other kind of cute creature. No, she is a BIG GIRL now and she will not be seen with anything babyish or designed for little children.
You know what else comes along with being a 'big girl'? An attitude. I mean, she's always had a bit of an attitude (I blame that one on my genes), but it always been something that we laughed at because it always seemed so funny coming from such a little thing.
It's not funny anymore.
Suddenly I can see the early stages of teenage behaviour beginning to creep in - it's in the way she talks, the things she says and the way she carries herself.
As the realisation that I cannot consider my baby a baby anymore dawned on me, I phone my mother for some kind of reassurance that it was all in my head. She politely (read: laughed her head off and swore repeatedly) informed me that it wasn't. The women in my family had always developed early - apparently, my mother brought this up with the doctor when I was around six and he had informed her that girls generally follow their mother's development pattern, so if she was early it would happen that way with me too. And it did. By age nine, my body had acquired a proper 'womanly' shape and my hormones were raging from the onset of my periods. Oh, joy. "Karma," my mother said. "Good luck darling."
Baby No More
As I piece all the little changes together I admitted to myself that it was time to agree with my daughter's assessment - she was indeed now a 'big girl', and it was time I let go of the image of that teeny little thing, all pink and smelling of baby powder. Now is the time for me to take my daughter's hand and walk with her on her first steps to womanhood. It's time for her to be a big girl - and it's time for the next 'phase' of our mother - daughter relationship.
About The Author
Stephanie Walker is a mum, wife, designer, seamstress, writer, and everything else in between. Her journey through motherhood hasn't been easy, but it's totally worth it when a mini version of you criticises you for your choice of clothing and your (very) messy bun, right? Right?!?!?!