My 12 year old sent me shopping to buy her an outfit for her Valentine’s Day dance.
This child has not let me dress her since she was 18 months old. This is a rare privilege, brought to me by a weekend full of (minor) illnesses that kept us (mostly) at home snuggled on the couch.
Still, I know she would have preferred choosing for herself. She’s an independent sort who takes her clothes seriously (even if they don’t always make sense to me).
Anyone who has ever met a 12 year old knows that she has sent me on a fool’s errand.
There’s something so intimate and precious about being able to choose for her. About staking a claim on knowing when we all know that even our dearest remain largely unknowable. Especially when they are twelve.
I walked around the store, carefully selecting articles of clothing, picking up accessories and putting them back down, doubling back, reconsidering–for much longer than was strictly necessary. But in my mind, as things tend to do, this became so much bigger than a shopping errand. This was an opportunity to show her that I see who she is. To honor her process of becoming.
But also, the whole thing simply oozed peril–because what if I choose something that (subconsciously) is more who I imagine her being than who she really is (honest to god, I shudder at the possibility).
We’re in an incredibly sweet moment in time, she and I. She still loves me big. She’s effusive with her doting, her attachment, her admiration.
But I know that it’s her job to forge her own identity, further & further away from me. Even as I marvel at our likenesses, I can feel her subtle differentiations. She feels the same, and wildly different, all the time.
I took my time with this gift I’ve been given, grateful that she trusts me. And that I can do this thing for her.
I also kept the receipt. Because twelve.