Last night, as I was tucking my daughters into bed, I watched my six-year old cozy up to her two teddy bears, one on either side of her, and lay her head on the pillow, almost inviting slumber and dreams to envelop her for the next 10 hours. She’s a great actor, that little drama queen of mine! The last to fall asleep and the first to get up, she’s often the only member of our family who sees my husband leave for work. She and I both knew she had at least another hour ahead of her before she truly settled down.
Picking up scattered clothes and laying out uniforms for the next day, I said ‘ boy, I wish I were six years old again’. Both she and her older sister looked up from their books in confusion. Now that I think about it, they were probably wondering whether my wish had anything to do with the birthday I had just had, and my exhortations to them not to share my age with every teacher, classmate and parent at the school. Ignoring their perplex, I went on, “I wish I could go to bed at 8:30, have my mama wake me up the next day…” and before I could go any further, my six year old piped up – “but we’ll tuck you in Mama, and wake you up tomorrow morning.” She was so sure she had offered me the perfect solution.
Of course, there was much more to my nostalgia than having someone tuck me in at night. My mother used to tell us that she wished she were a bird that could fly among the clouds. I, probably like my daughters, didn’t quite understand her desire to be anything other than what she was – my mother.
Today, that moment in my daughters’ room has played over and over in my mind. What is it about a six year old’s life that I craved? And therein lies precisely what I should be giving my daughter, most importantly of which are the care-free wings my mother spoke of. She and all children are entitled – yes entitled – to not be burdened with the stresses of adult life. No matter what is happening in our lives, I want her and her siblings to go about their daily lives unaffected. This doesn’t mean she grows up thinking life is a bed of roses, but for the most part, and for the time being, her world should be about trips to the library, learning how to write a thank you card at school and which teddy bear to sleep with at night. Corny? Maybe. But childhood is golden and its our job as parents to make sure it stays that way so that she will in fact wish she were six again.
Mihad Fahmy is a London Ontario mother of three. She practices human rights and labour law and is always on the lookout for the perfect novel to escape into at the end of a busy day.