Watching Her Grow Up

May 11, 2011

The other day, WD, Mouse and I went to see Thor.

It was Mother’s Day.  I hadn’t made the plans ahead of time, and Lemon had already made different plans.  She was going to have a friend over, and then go see a play at the community theater group that she’d been a part of until, well, exactly a year ago, when she graduated.  The play wasn’t movable.

I felt kind of bad that I, all spur of the moment, said “let’s go see Thor!” Because it meant we were planning Lemon out of the trip.  But she had plans, so she was fine.  But then her plans fell through.  Her friend who was going to come over could not.

She asked tentatively – when’s the movie?  When do you think it will get out?  There was no way she could come to the movie and get to her play.  WD advocated for the movie to still happen – Lemon made the plans to see the play, and I (Suzie) shouldn’t feel bad about it.  I decided not to feel bad.  Lemon was really okay with it – in a “more mature than her mother” kind of way.  So I swallowed it.

But while we were at the movie, she was on my mind.

At one point, hopefully during a boring part of the movie, I *really* had to pee.  I got up and ran out.  Peed at the speed of light.  Ran back.

And was struck by a memory — the first time we all went to a movie together that I let Lemon go to the bathroom by herself.  I was so nervous the whole time she was gone.  But she (of course) came back.  It was crazy how quick it seemed.  And I was watching as she came back in.  Watching the entrance for her show up; sighing with relief when she did.  She made her way across the theater and back to our seats just as if she were an adult.  She was probably 12.  And I remember being struck by how small she was.  “Just as if she were an adult,” but small.

I realized, as I remembered, that if she were with us today, and if she had to run to the bathroom, and then came back (quicker than expected), it would be “just as if she were adult,” but no longer small.  The sentence would need to end.

She’s not small, anymore.  I’m not sure if she’s full-grown or not yet, but she’s 5’5″, and taller than many of my friends. She wears a size 9 shoe, a size 4 pant, and an adult medium shirt.

There’s no more small.


Lemon had therapy tonight.  Her appointment is at 7, and her therapist stretches her schedule to make it work.  I don’t know if it’s what is helping, but my daughter is doing very, very well.  She seems to be thriving in all of her friendships.  She is a joy to have in the house more than not.  She is proud, she is successful.  Things are good.  Maybe because of therapy, maybe just concurrent with it.

But to get her there, our schedules are tight.  She is at crew – in another town – until at least 5:30 p.m.  She rides her bike home … eventually.  Pulling her stuff together quickly, well, it just doesn’t happen.  She’s a lollygagger.  (yes, I made that word up.)

Also, I am a lawyer in a big firm.  It’s not easy for me to get out of work before 6 p.m.  If things are busy, 6 p.m. is a real stretch.  Things are not busy (see previous post), but I still find myself on the phone with colleagues, or organizing emails, maybe filing some papers, and before I know it, it’s after 6.

I was rushing home, texting WD, worried about dinner.  He was aiming for a 6:30 p.m. dinner, and i got off the train at our local stop at 6:19.  I was trying to stay focused on the walk (3 blocks?), but I cross through the park and sports field for the high school.  I walk along a baseball/softball diamond.  Two teams were warming up.

Ahhh, yes.  The town’s rec league girls’ softball.

It was Lemon’s first sport.  In the spring that we moved here from California, she was interested in softball, and we signed her up.  For the little ones, it was in a park far away, and it was hard for us.  We had to get a Zipcar, because we didn’t yet have our car.  So on Sunday afternoons, we’d make a day of it.  We’d get the car, hang out at the park, watch Lemon draw pictures in the dirt at short stop, maybe 3rd base.

Then she moved up to a different field.  Closer to home, no car needed, but it was a healthy walk.  At that point (4th grade), they added in Wednesday evening practices, from 6-8 p.m.  Lemon and many of her friends had the rehearsals for that aforementioned community theater program until 5:30 p.m.  Us parents took turns …. we’d pick the girls up, shove some food down their throats, and get them to the field for 6 p.m.

I remember my turn so well.  I picked them up on foot.  I walked them all to a burrito place, between the theater and the softball field.  They were in 5th grade.  I know this, because that was the year they had “Health.”  I know this, because while we were in the burrito place, the girls started to have a very interesting conversation in very loud voices:  “Did you hear when Ms. _____ was talking about an ORGASM?  They said that girls can have ORGASMS, too!!!”  There were at least 6 girls with me that were not my own, and I was not entirely certain that all parents would be thrilled with me for explaining to them that conversations about orgasms were best had either outside of public places, or in quiet tones.  Was I squashing their sexuality?  teaching them to be ashamed of their bodies and its needs?

I don’t know.  But I do know that my law professor and his daughter of the same age were 2 tables away, and I was devastated.  (I was in my second year of law school ….).  I should have just thrown it in:  “Hell, yeah, girls, we can!  And you shouldn’t settle for anything less than three per session!”  But I didn’t.

Anyway ….

Once they hit 6th grade, they moved to a field so much closer to home, it was bliss.  It was a short walk from home (but not from the theater), and it was right here — by the high school.  The very field I passed tonight.  6th, 7th, 8th grade.  Lemon and her closest friends played softball on Wednesday evenings in the spring, from 6 – 8 p.m.  Once I started work, and we moved here near this train stop, I’d get off the train, cross the street, and meet my friends (pre-dinner for me, post-dinner for them) to chat while our daughters played.  The girls were already getting to the point where our opportunities to just observe were limited.  It was a real treat to sit on the bleachers, or if were stuck on the far field, to sit on the grass, and chat while our kids flitted around us.  The playground days already so far behind us.

But tonight, as I passed the field, the girls were strangers to me.  The coach wasn’t my dear friend C, dad to one of Lemon’s closest friends, husband of one of mine.   The names being called out weren’t the same that called the house “Hi, Suzie, is Lemon home, it’s _____”

I texted WD to remark on the fact … this is the first spring in 5 years that we aren’t here – if not this here, then another here – watching Lemon play softball.



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