Caroline’s taking our oldest and heading out of town this Friday. And that means yours truly will be left in charge of all things domestic, which, in our case, includes a delightful assortment of children aged five and younger. The triplets and baby Luke, to be precise. And while that may sound daunting, it’s nowhere near the most daunting thing on my plate.
Nope. The most daunting thing on my plate is the reason for Caroline and Alli’s departure. But more on that in a second.
First, let’s push rewind, shall we? Because I’ve been preparing for this day. Which is why I’d test the waters every now and again with a probing question about random boys in her class, always relieved when I got the “Ew, he’s gross,” response.
Because, at some point, she’ll become interested in boys. And I always presumed it would be one of her classmates she’d eventually go all ga-ga over. And in my mind, the kid was a snot-nosed little punk with messy hair and a B-plus vocal. And he’d be a touch less respectful to Caroline and me than he should be, but he’d also be just smooth enough to pull it off.
How do I know all of this? Because I was that snot-nosed little punk. And, paradoxically, it’s now me I’m on the lookout for.
Or is it?
Because my daughter still isn’t interested in the boys in her fifth grade class. But she is, however, interested in…
And by interested, I mean infatuated. I remember when my greatest musical nemesis in her life was Hip Hop Harry (YO, that’s a really slammin’ lunchbox you got there, Cindy…). No threat there. That dude was a mascot, for crying out loud. But Justin Bieber is a real live person and I don’t know what my deal is, but the fact that my daughter is infatuated with him bugs the hell out of me.
Snot-nosed little punk.
What’s weird, though, is that when he first came out, she wasn’t into him. All her little girl friends were, but not Alli. She thought he sounded “girlie.” (Can I get a true-dat?) But funny what puberty will do to a teen idol. It makes a man out of him. A super-boyish little man who’s kinda pretty like a girl. And, it seems that my lovely Alli is no longer immune to his considerable (?) charms.
So it was a crushing blow to say the least when Caroline told me what she wanted to get Alli for Christmas: two tickets to see the Biebs in concert in Nashville. And she’s taking her on Friday. And I’m struggling with it. Not to a huge extent, but I’d be lying if I told you it hasn’t scratched my radar.
Since opening her gift, Alli’s pretty much put Justin’s latest song, Beauty and a Beat, on perpetual loop in our house which I’m hoping is as close as I’ll ever get to learning what Hell is like. Not a fan. Especially the part where Nicki Minaj sings (or whatever it is she actually does):
Buns out, weiner, but I gotta keep an eye out for Selen-er.
Just what I want my 11-year-old to listen to, right?
So I was thinking about all this the other day, and I couldn’t let it go, prompting me to wonder what it was about the situation that irked me, so. Truth be told, I’m probably exaggerating my aversion for effect here in this post, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that there’s something about the entire ordeal that’s unsettling to me. And I finally figured it out.
I’m not ready to let go of her yet. I’m not ready for her to love Justin Bieber. To go off to concerts. To listen to music with questionable content. To continue to become whoever it is she’s destined to become.
But she’s ready. And typically, whenever one of my children is ready to do something, I encourage them to do just that. So what’s the problem here?
Parenting’s a funny thing. Because part of the job requires that you protect, nourish and nurture. And to do that, you gotta hold your child close. But the only reason why you do those things is to prepare your child to negotiate a world of Justin Biebers all by herself one day. Which means that even as we hold close to protect, nourish and nurture, we’re letting go a little more each day. Only most of the time we’re unaware of it.
On Friday, when Caroline and Alli pull out of the driveway to drive across the state to see Justin Bieber in concert, I’ll be all too aware.
But thankfully, I’ll be aware of this, too. I don’t hate Justin Bieber. I hate the idea of my little girl being not-so-little any more. Which is weird. Because I love who she’s becoming.
All the more reason to continue letting her go, don’t you think?