“Mommy, why does Anna grow up?”
My four-year-old daughter, Miriam, is thinking hard about Disney’s Frozen. She wants to know why Anna has to grow up in the movie. Why can’t Anna just stay a little girl? And then, gesturing to her own body like a game show hostess, she tells me she wants to stay this size forever.
My thoughts instantly go to my son. He died seven years ago in a swimming pool accident. He will forever be a few weeks shy of two years old. I’ll never know if he’ll be tall like my husband or stocky like me. I’ll never know if he’ll be the teacher’s favorite or a boy scout. I’ll never know if he’ll need glasses or braces or even a math tutor.
So, when I face the wistful thoughts of many parents- the wish that they could stay little forever-it fills me with terror. The terror of losing another child. The terror of not seeing my child grow up. Of a life cut short.
I wonder why Miriam wants to stay little forever? Where did she get this idea of growing up as optional? I start to explain why growing up is exciting and natural.
“Everybody grows up! It’s just what our bodies do!” I tell her.
I don’t get too detailed with how she’ll drive a car and go to work and have her own house to live and her own kids who call her mommy. I don’t want her to think past her Play-Doh Crazy Cuts Hair Salon right now. Let her watch the clay push its way through the holes in the silly character’s head as she turns the crank. The best I can hope for her is that she will always giggle with excitement as the “hair grows.” Through every stage of her life, she WILL grow in so many ways.
And so will I. And it will be my pleasure.