Friday, February 11, 2011

You Think You've Seen It All Before

Last weekend we hauled out old family movies for the first time in years, and spent a few hours revisiting the girls as they were at ages 2 and 3. In the unfair apportioning of screen time that accrues to birth order, there were seven tapes of the oldest child, and about seven minutes of the youngest. (Maybe that’s why she is pursuing a life on the stage, to try to make up for not being filmed as a baby…)

As I watched our now-teen daughter appear on screen, I was thunderstruck. Of course I remember her as the little girl with the Louise Brooks bob and the husky voice, tapping her way through Miss Marilyn’s dance class and reading board books to her collection of teddy bears. It’s just kind of incomprehensible that the same soul now resides in a tall, long-haired girl who comes up to my shoulder and buys all her own superfly clothes with babysitting money. 

One day slips into the next and even though you’re watching every moment of it you fail to notice the transitions. One of my favorite sayings about parenting when the girls were small was “The days crawl. But the years fly.” It made me feel better about those eternal daytime hours with toddlers, when the activity you thought would carry you until nap time is done in twenty minutes and you’re scrambling for the next distraction, nerves frazzled and raw. 

Now I wince when I hear it. The years are indeed flying. In another five, if we do our job right and the University of California system is still solvent, she’ll be off to college. I guess it takes that moment of standing back and seeing both the little girl on the screen and the big one sitting next to you on the couch to make you realize it.

Nothing in the room has changed but your own perspective.

For today’s music moment I picked a song that you have heard a million times (a million and one, if you watch Glee): Firework by Katy Perry. You will be tempted to not watch it, because as soon as you flip on your car radio it will be playing again. You will think you know everything about it there is to know – standard pop fare. I did.

Then someone clued me in to check out the video, and when I pulled it up on my laptop I realized it's meant as heartfelt encouragement to every teenager trying to negotiate the rocky shoals of growing up, to every closeted gay kid and self-conscious big girl and wallflower. My reaction watching it can best be described by what my daughter said when she entered the room – “oh my GOSH, Dad, Mom is crying AGAIN!” I blubbered something about “firework – you are so special – don't ever let someone make you feel worthless -  I love you so much- bwawahahwaawaawawa” before she rolled her eyes and walked out again.

It's the same old pop song. I just hear it differently now.

Here’s to all the kids trying to keep that spark alive inside them (though seriously, do not go swimming in your underwear at an overcrowded party. You do not want to be that headline.) Take a moment this weekend and try to see them for who they have become.


  1. WOW! I have a new respect for Katy Perry...

  2. Wonderful, Nancy. Loved the video too. Eons ago, did the swimming in the underwear thing -- certainly caused some fireworks. Tell ya later...

  3. It's apparent you don't have to be a parent to identify with every word in this column! Keep up the good work/writing! I had a hug from this very same kid just this week - ahhhhhh!

  4. My eldest daughter turns 13 in a couple weeks. I think I shall steal this post in its entirety ; ) You sum up my feelings perfectly!

  5. you are my Firework! just had a cuddly moment with my 10 and 12 year old (stella and pjotr) who said, yeah mom, i watch this video about 5 times a day. Well, i hope they are listening. Thanks firework girl! xxxshira


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...