Watching a child grow

Me and her, 2006.

Me and her, 2006.

Sometimes I feel as if I’m losing my daughter. Which, I suppose, I am.

She’s 11. Until a few months ago, I would tuck her in every night. It started when she was teeny tiny, and I’d crawl into bed and sing her songs. “Georgie” by Hall and Oates, “No Rain” by Blind Melon, “Beth” by KISS. On and on. We’d read books, and she’d ask for stories.

“What kind of story?” I’d say.

“One from your life.”

“OK, well this one time …”

People have long said my daughter and I look alike. She’s tall, long limbs, blue eyes. Back in the day we’d make weekly pilgrimages to the Westchester Mall, where we had a standard routine of visiting Sephora, then Pottery Barn Kids, then the jewelry shop where they handed out free chocolate cookies. We’d have dinner in the food court, chat, laugh. Sometimes the Dippin’ Dots machine was involved. Just sometimes.

My daughter and I used to talk about everything—and she’d look forward to it. Name a topic, from music to school to growing up, and we’d discuss. I’d sit at the end of her bed and we’d jump from topic to topic to topic.

It’s now 2015. We’re still tight. Very tight. But it’s a bit different. Predictably so, but still a bit jarring. Most nights, my daughter just asks to read and go to sleep. I’ll come in, pop up on her bed, say, “Let’s talk!” Half the time she’s in, but half the time she’ll tell me she’s tired, and wants to focus on a book and turn the lights off. There are no more songs, no more requests for stories. At the start of this year, both of us new to California, she’d want me to drive her to school every day. I usually did so once or twice a week, and cherished the moments. Now, with familiarity and friends, she prefers to take the bus.

I’m fully aware this is all common turf. Important turf. Children grow and evolve and become increasingly independent. It’s great that she loves reading; great that she has friends; great that she feels comfortable on the bus.

Every so often, however, I’d love for her to say, “Daddy, tell me story.”

About what?

“One from your life.”

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