The Girl brought home the proofs from her Grade 8 graduation pictures last night, if you want to talk about time's wing'd chariot and all that. "Celebrate the Achievement!" the text on the picture sheet read, which I thought was sort of overstating matters, since passing grade 8 seems like something a parent should just EXPECT and all.
But she's off to HIGH SCHOOL in the fall, and that's what the pictures are about. Goodbye, childhood! And she looks suddenly older in the pictures, her adult bones whispering around her shy adolescent smile. "Did you think," whispers something mean inside, "That she would be a little girl forever, that you could keep her?"
She's a vegetarian - of sorts - again right now, which I saw coming. So her lunch today is lentil soup, mostly, which she has always loved (and I don't know how or why. Lentils WERE one of the foods I fed her a lot of when she was a toddler, but I also did that with the other two and they're rather cool on the topic. She just loves lentils.), and whole grain crackers, baby carrots and a yogurt and an apple. Not too exciting, but she enjoys it, the dour little soul.
"Are you going to eat at the cafeteria?" M's friend asked her, in my hearing. "Nah," M said. "I like the lunches my mom packs me. And the cafeteria's too expensive."
I've been packing her lunches for the past ten years of school - good grief! a decade! - and it is a reasonably thankless task. My kids generally don't comment on their lunches, lunches being something (like clean laundry and new running shoes) that just happens. I always presumed that - given the choice - they would pick other options then their bagged lunches and I am PLEASANTLY ASTOUNDED that this turns out not to be the case for at least one of my kids. She likes the lunches her mom packs her! And also, pragmatically, she has figured out that spending less money on cafeteria food = more pocket money for her. But she likes the lunches her mom packs her, too! Aw.
It is hard, sometimes, to remember in the day-to-dayness of looking after kids that this is not permanent, that what we're actually doing is attempting to raise worthwhile adults, to raise people who can leave us and high school is a loud alarm clock for the countdown that has always actually been happening. Four more years, her Grade 8 graduation pictures fairly shrieks, and in the meantime - while she is still my girl at home - I will keep packing her lunches as long as she wants them. Packing my kids' lunches is a boring type of drudgery but it is also something concrete from home, carrot sticks and juice boxes and something sweet. It is a pragmatic love letter to fleeting, lovely childhood.