Teagan, today you turn 7.
It’s not a milestone birthday — but as the youngest of five in our household, every year that you age up feels huge to me. I’m hyper aware of the “kid things” that felt like they would last forever with your older siblings, but didn’t. And I’m consciously trying to enjoy the playful, childlike spirit you infuse our home with as the days and years pass.
A few weeks ago, we were shopping in our local Spirit Halloween. Your eyes lit up when we arrived at the Paw Patrol section. You pointed to your favorite characters amid the wall of costumes and candy buckets shaped like pup heads. You own most of the costumes we saw that day but there was one — Liberty, the new one from the recent movie — who caught your eye.
“Liberty! My favorite pup!” you shouted, reaching for the costume that was just out of your reach. I grabbed one down, noticing the size was too small as I placed it in your excited arms.
As you held the tiny, square, plastic costume in a bear hug, I sifted through the other sizes. They were all too small for you. At first I thought it was just bad luck. They didn’t have the size you needed in that particular pup. But then I thumbed through a few more Paw Patrol costumes and realized they were all too small for you.
A pang of grief stabbed my mommy heart. Even though you still love Paw Patrol as much — or more than — you did as a toddler and preschooler, common sense says you will age out of it soon. Hey, the Halloween costume marketers are in the know.
But you took the news that none of the costumes were your size in stride, as you always do. A few seconds later you were wearing a Mario mask. Eventually you decided on a colorful witch costume that looked like it had been designed by JoJo Siwa.
“But I need a wig mom,” you matter-of-factly told me, handing me a long hot pink one. “Because it’s too obvious that it’s me without one.”
When you wore that costume, wig included, to a school event a few days later, your friends did not recognize you. I thought that might make you happy (I personally love a good disguise) but it was clear that you were troubled by it.
“I think I’m too scary, Mom,” you said, shifting your wig back on your head, ever so slightly, to pull a single, blonde curl out from under it. The next friend you encountered looked confused for a second when you enthusiastically greeted him, until you pointed to the stray ringlet, peeking out from under the pink.
“See? It’s me! Teagan!”
You’re a kind problem-solver. I’m more of a fixer — of people and situations — which can bring anxiety and stress. That doesn’t describe you though. You see a problem that is within your realm of ability to address and you logically take the steps to fix it.
No Liberty costume in your size? Well, good thing there is an entire store of other costumes at your disposal.
Friends not recognizing you in your witch wig? Pull a curl out to identify yourself.
Even as a seven year old, you see things so clearly and are not easily riled up or emotional. You can envision the answers to problems, and the path there, in an instant. Your loyalty is fierce (I think we’re going on year six of Paw Patrol fandom) and your heart for others is huge.
But you’re no nonsense on most things. It’s not that you lack the emotion. It’s just that you don’t let that emotion cloud the steps to where you want to go.
So as you continue to age out of character costumes, I plan to fully embrace the coming years of your childhood. As your older siblings march toward adulthood, you give me the gift of a child who still wants to color with me, and sit on my lap, and snuggle up with me to watch a movie.
With you, Teagan, I never know what you’re going to say — but it always makes sense when you do say it.
So happy 7th birthday to the baby of this brood. I’m looking forward to what the year brings.
Katie Parsons is a writer and editor who lives on Florida’s Space Coast. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.Category: Birthdays