"The seven year old, with his toothless smile, is a physical marvel. He stumbles while running across the playground, because his legs probably grew while he slept last night. He looks slightly different every day, because he is growing teeth and losing them at a rapid rate. Suddenly, he is able to think outside the concrete experience of his in-the-moment life, and plan ahead, envisioning what is not yet there." -- Pam Allyn
It is the tradition I engage in every year on January 27th, a sacred liturgy all my own, remembering the last 24 hour hours before Dacey was born, the last full day before I was reborn as a mother.
I start at 6 AM, remembering the soul-crushing call to the labor and delivery floor of our hospital. "Too full." Too full for me to come in for the scheduled induction. Nine days past the due date I was convinced I wouldn't reach, nine days of growing more and more convinced she would never, ever arrive.
But later in the day, there was mercy in the form of the careful gloved hand of my doctor. Membranes stripped at 1 PM. Labor started at 4. I waited until Friends was over at 7:30 to go to the hospital. A long night and lots of things never imagined and she was born on the 28th - FINALLY - at 5:43 AM.
With solemnity and smiles, I mark the day every year. The last day before.
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"Seven year olds worry, but they also revel in the rich moments that are special to their age. An ice-cream cone with a grandparent or a subway ride are grand adventures. Seven-year-olds are true companions, old enough to understand you have had a hard day, and young enough to need that day to fall away so she can crawl right back into your arms, preparing for the new and better day ahead." -- Pam Allyn
After school, she climbed into her booster seat and told me breathlessly, "Mom! I got my first birthday present at school today! It was from Maria!" Dacey's pre-K and Kindergarten class looped up together; I know them all by name. Maria is the only one from that class who is in first grade with Dacey, and oh, I do love that little girl. White teeth against brown skin make her smile a true wonder of creation.
"A marble! A clear marble with blue and orange swirl!" Dacey held up it for me to admire, and I said, "What a great gift! How thoughtful of Maria!" My daughter's big enthusiasm for the smallest things - I wish I could capture it and swirl in a marble and tuck it away to treasure the rest of my days.
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"While we all rush by, busy and moving quickly, the seven-year-old will still tug at your hand to bend down and take another look. They want to keep that beloved book by their beds because the act of rereading feels important, soothing, and instructive. How right they are. In reality, they are building their reading muscles, becoming more fluent readers, and increasing their stamina and comprehension by revisiting familiar texts on their own that for years you have been reading aloud to them. -- Pam Allyn"
"Pray over me."
Every night, our ritual. Aliza Joy says it, "Pray about me," and Lord knows I do. But Dacey says it the way I say it and I say yes, I'll pray over you.
Holy God and Heavenly Father, thank you for my Dacey girl. She is a treasure and a blessing and a gift from You. Thank you for her beautiful heart and her so smart mind and her loving choices today. Thank for another day with her. Put your Hand on her mind, God, and keep the bad dreams away. Help her dreams to be filled with all the things that are happy and beautiful and good. In the name of Jesus I ask these things, Amen.
If there was ever a child who loved ritual and routine and re-reading and re-visiting, it is her. She feels ground in sameness, but proud of herself for trying new things. "It's good to try something new every day" has been her favorite mantra lately, and I am amazed by the way she has incorporated positive self-talk into her life at such an early age.
She is truly new each day. More of her pull close, pants too short each morning, big teeth pushing in as quickly as little ones fall out. She is growing into herself every day, and I'm learning to step back more and become a student of my child, one of the best texts I'll ever read in her big dark brown eyes.
It will be hard to top Six, it was such a great year for us. But I have high hopes for Seven, for this golden age that is the blessed middle, far from babyhood but still a safe distance from tweenage. Days of marbles and rituals and giggles and fairies that visit in the night, leaving behind sweet rewards as consolation for the pieces of my baby they take while she sleeps.
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All Pam Allyn quotes are from her highly helpful book What to Read When: The Books and Stories to Read with Your Child--and All the Best Times to Read Them
Dacey's birth story can be found here: Happy Three to D!