Raising Teens

She Doesn’t Like Flamingos Anymore:

My Daughter Is Growing Up And I Can’t Stop It


This week I realized something I have been dreading. My daughter is growing up and there is nothing I can do to stop the clock.

I’m realistic of course, I am aware that she is fifteen. I can’t help that when I look at her, sometimes, well a lot of the time, I still see a sweet little girl with curly pigtails and missing teeth. This week, however, there was a minute shift in the air, a tiny change, and it turned my heart upside down for a minute.

The kids were out for Spring Break and I must say, for the most part, the weather was beautiful. We happen to have a wonderful zoo in our city, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, and since I was watching my five-year old nephew for the week, my daughter and I decided to take him down to see the animals. We really had a wonderful day, my daughter’s oldest friend came along for some much-needed bonding time. We took a trolley to the lovely gardens. I’m fairly certain I took at least a hundred pictures.

It was when everyone was starting to get a little bit tired that we came upon the flamingo exhibit. This is always my daughters favorite exhibit. She has always loved flamingos. She has a flamingo Build A Bear. She decorated her things in flamingos. If she saw a flamingo she made sure to point out it was her favorite animal. When I saw flamingo stuff I tried to pick it up for her. Flamingos were her spirit animal.

That is until this week. I was excited when we got to the flamingos because, even at fifteen, I just knew she would still love them. Boy was I wrong. While my nephew, her friend and I talked about why flamingos are pink and how they stand on one leg and how beautiful they are, she was staring intently at her phone. Then she said the words that basically closed the door on her childhood.

“I really don’t even know why I ever liked flamingos so much, i saw them dancing or something but I don’t really care anymore.” It was like my heart broke into a hundred million pieces. I was alone on a desolate island with dancing flamingos laughing at me.

I’m kidding obviously, but in all seriousness, it was a real moment of realization for me that she isn’t my little girl anymore. She’s instead my young lady, and I think I am the only one fighting the clock to keep it from moving forward. She is somewhere in the middle of childhood and adulthood. We all remember that time. It’s a tough, lonely, amazing, wonderful, horrible, magical time. Maybe the only time in our lives we fight desperately to grow out of and as soon as it’s gone we spend the rest of our lives wanting desperately back.

I look at her all the time and hope I am doing the right thing by her. Hope that she makes the right choices as I let her go little by little. Hope that life doesn’t break her. But on that day at the zoo, I realized I hoped that one day, years from now she takes a little girl with pigtails and no front teeth to the zoo and they get to see flamingos dance, and she remembers why she loved them so much.

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