Who knew getting older could be so difficult?
This week, my family celebrated my daughter's eighth birthday, making not only me feel old once again, but also highlighting for my daughter how getting older creates new challenges.
Each new year offers new responsibilities, and that weighed heavy on my daughter's mind in recent weeks, especially since one major holiday lost a bit of its imagination.
Santa Claus (and Tootles our house elf for that matter) are no longer living, as of last week to my daughter.
For years, she's questioned how Santa can do all that delivering in just one night. Whatever the reason, she just couldn't pull the trigger on deserting the man in red. That was until she was presented overwhelming evidence by some friends, creating the awkward situation of me attempting to explain how everything at this point in her life was being ruined because she was getting older.
Those are her words — not mine.
No more Easter bunny. No more tooth fairy. And now, no more Tootles or Santa. Who knew turning 8 could be so dramatic?
After a bit of tears and pleas from me to keep this information away from her younger brothers, she came back to the reality that it wasn't so bad to now be in cahoots with Mom and Dad. As long as she gets to wrap her youngest brother's presents, she would make the most of the situation.
The end of Santa Claus is just one of the many moments that has ushered in a new existence for my daughter. Every new grade offers its own new responsibilities, but second grade appears to be on overdrive. Friendships are more complicated. Drama is more readily available. And the amount of activities creates a never-ending taxi service that doesn't pay well.
It's not all bad, though. The ability to read more fluently has opened up a wide array of new possibilities and created the ability to engage in more meaningful conversations with adults.
Learning new things is a daily occurrence. And since she's probably the most empathetic person I know, she does lend a helping hand to her outnumbered parents on occasion, giving us some mental rest in having to care exclusively for her two younger brothers.
This past year has accelerated the notion that our daughter is becoming a free-thinking, independent child, who is now closer to being a teenager than a toddler. That creates some major challenges, as seeking independence is never an easy proposition for either party.
While it's scary, it's also exciting, witnessing how she can think for herself and creatively solve problems that arise, without needing the assistance of Mom and Dad.
Even though some imagination is being ruined with age, it's not a total bummer getting older. Staying up later, having more freedom and improving life skills aren't a bad tradeoff for what's being left behind. As always, birthdays are a nice time to reflect on the past year, and realize that life is moving faster than what it appears on a daily basis.
It's moving so fast, that by the time I mark her next eight years of life, she'll be ready to drive. There's not enough non-gray hairs on my head to account for the amount of stress that will entail.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at email@example.com or @ScottLevineCH on Twitter.