When I was One,
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three,
I was hardly Me.
When I was Four,
I was not much more.
When I was Five,
I was just alive.
But now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.
I was scraping the last, sticky remnants of a teddy bear wallpaper border off my daughter's bedroom wall and remembering the day we put it up.
It was a spur-of-the-moment addition to Allie's first room, a great dollar-store find, with old-fashioned brown teddy bears and yellow stars that matched
the bedding in her crib.
The bear border was in the middle of the wall, with pale-green paint below it and light-blue paint with swirls of white above it.
I remember surveying the room and thinking that it was the perfect balance for a nursery "" comforting and cuddly, but not so babyish that she'd grow out of it too quickly.
And I was right. Allie loved her bears. For nearly six years, they were a familiar fixture in a room where everything else changed. They were there for 4 a.m. feedings and bad dreams; first steps and first-day-of-school outfits. They heard thousands of bedtime stories, including the first one Allie read all by herself.
And then one day this fall, Allie declared her room "too babyish." She wanted a new look, something bright and pretty: pink, purple, butterflies, fairies.
So, the day after her sixth birthday, while she was at school, my sister-in-law helped me surprise her with a bedroom makeover: lavender on the bottom, a shade of pink called Rosy Cheeks on the top and a border of butterfly-winged fairies flitting in between.
This time, when I surveyed the finished room, I couldn't help but take stock: two rooms, six years; one-third of my youngest daughter's childhood, over.
There is something special about being 6. It's an exciting time, full of growth and discovery.
When Allie writes in her first-grade journal, her thoughts come faster than she can form the words, and she is just beginning to learn to spell and use punctuation.
But that doesn't stop her. She is thrilled to have permission to "just write it the way it sounds" and has her own sort of shorthand that, amazingly, her teacher can decipher. Consider this recent entry: "It is a haief day wow I cet balev it we dot have loesh today or reises I loek haief days."
Life with a first-grader is never boring. Allie is extremely curious and constantly asking tricky questions, ranging from the big ones ("How did the first person get born?" and "Who will I marry?") to little stuff like, "Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?"
She demands to learn and try new things and, when she puts her mind to it, can often accomplish tasks she was sure she couldn't do "" whether it's drawing a star, playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on the piano or walking two miles.
Her favorite toys seem to be those with very small parts, and she constantly amazes me with her dexterity "" whether it's dressing a Barbie doll or brushing the teeth of a Littlest Pet Shop dog. (And when she applies those skills to zipping her own coat, even better!) I know that in second grade, she will learn more things and become much more independent. She will hang up her own backpack, learn to spell, read thicker books and maybe even be able to put jelly on her toast without making a mess.
She will lose the last trace of her baby face.
I know that she has to grow up and away, and I know that I will change along with her. (Her vow to "never get married and always live at home with you guys" is cute now, but I'm sure I'll feel differently in 20 years.)
In the meantime, I am finding comfort in small things. Her feet still dangle from the kitchen chair. She loves to answer questions about school. She'd still choose "special Mommy time" over a play date at a friend's house, at least sometimes.
And so, instead of being wistful about the six years that have gone by, I'm thankful for the 12 years to come.
Lisa Miller is a freelance writer who lives in Oneonta. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.