How we got our little girl back

In some ways, the Coronavirus pandemic has caused intense worry and stress for kids, aging them before their time.

But in other ways, it has forced them to take a break from their peers and get close to their families again.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I like that we’ve been spending so much time together and our kiddo has been sheltered from some peer influences. I feel like in some ways, Z is back to acting her age again instead of the premature tween angst we had been experiencing.

I definitely feel closer to Zoe since all this started; we’ve spent a ton of time together, after all. When I asked her recently during a quiet moment whether she feels closer to us, less close or the same – she admitted that she feels closer to me since all this began. That feels like a win to me!

What I’m noticing and appreciating lately is that all this time spent away from the pressures of school and peers has allowed her to ease up on acting older than she is.

Now granted, she still loves TikTok and will spend as much time creating and consuming media on that darn app as we allow. But even with the TikTok factor, there are telltale signs that our sweet little girl is back.

For one thing, Z has always been a huge makeup aficionado and practicing makeup artist – so much so that I had almost forgotten what her pretty little face looked like without winged eyeliner and mascara! But sometime since the pandemic happened, she has given up the makeup habit and been beautifully bare-faced. I adore it and hope it continues.

She has also stopped trying to “dress cool” (my words not hers – but it basically means dressing older than she is and often in ways E and I don’t necessarily view as appropriate, like crop tops or too-short shorts). Lately, she’s been adopting a quarantine-chic look of oversized tees, lounge pants or PJs all day, and that is FINE with me! Being comfortable is always better than the alternative.

On Monday, she and I went back to the zoo after what feels like forever and may in fact have been a year away. I don’t know if it’s all the time away, or the fact that so many months of quarantine means leaving the house to do anything feels like the best thing ever, but we had an incredible day together.

She even held my hand at times during the day – and has done that on other recent errands and outings, too – something she had pretty much quit doing in public. It makes me feel so happy when she does that! It’s a delightful reminder of the little girl she once was.

Don’t get me wrong, I love absolutely every stage and age that Z passes through while she’s in them. I don’t long for her baby or toddler days, and never try to rush ahead to her teen years. I’m in love with right where we are, right when we get there. I try to appreciate each moment and milestone.

But I will admit that I don’t like it when she acts older than she is or tries to rush herself along the spectrum into young womanhood. I’m not trying to put it off – I just am in no hurry to get there. There’s a lot of meanness and mom-hating in my future, and I know it’s coming but I’ll be glad if it takes its time.

For that reason, I truly appreciate all this pre-fifth-grade time together alone at home and the way that it’s allowing her to act her true age again. I love her bare, makeup-free face. I cherish every outing she’s willing to go on with me without being coerced. And if she holds my hand while we’re out, then hot diggity – I’m one happy mama.

How about you – have you noticed any subtle changes in your grade-school kiddos since they’ve been home with you, and vice versa? I can’t be the only one who feels like I’ve got my little one back, even if only for a very short while.

As always, I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below or over on Facebook.

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.
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