Every morning before school Grace would rummage through closets, drawers, or laundry hampers to find the most “beautiful” outfits possible—generally hand-me-down dance costumes covered in lace and sequins, combined with Sunday dress shoes, and the random white t-shirt or fleece pullover thrown in for warmth, modesty, or some fashion plan that only made sense to Grace. And every morning, as she headed out to meet her day, Princess Grace was gorgeous.
Recently Grace hit a rough patch in her kindergarten world. Friends who used to be her friends weren’t. Skills that formerly came easily were a struggle. The class that used to be fun wasn’t. Dressing up in the morning didn’t seem to matter.
She cried before school; she cried after school. Sometimes she cried at school. As a mama I held her and worried and soothed and prayed, and sometimes when she didn’t see me, I cried, too.
We pulled through it, because rough patches have a way of smoothing out, given time and hard-earned wisdom (even the kindergarten variety), and tender mercies in answer to prayers.
It took a few days for me to realize that something had changed.
Every morning before school Grace bypasses the shiny, twirly skirts and rhinestone studded tops in favor of jeans and sweaters. The coat she’s been intentionally ‘forgetting’ all year long (because none of the princesses in the movies ever wear coats) is a sudden must-have because her friend Joselyn has the same coat and they like to match every day. Instead of the colorful mismatch of prints, solids, florals, stripes, in every shade of the rainbow that used to comprise Grace’s daily outfits, now she carefully plans out matching shirt, socks, and shoes that all work well with her basic blue jeans. She’s put away the Sunday dress shoes in favor of the tennis shoes that are like all the other girls in her class. Instead of perusing fairy tale books to show me the most amazing princess dresses, Grace brings me ads for Hannah Montana merchandise, with awe in her voice as she describes how very cool Hannah Montana is, and she wishes she could be just like Hannah Montana.
I brought her to the bus stop where she bounced away, grinning, looking just like all the other kids, in her skinny little jeans, shiny athletic shoes, puffy coat, and pink backpack. I love that she’s happy, that she’s confident, that she’s brave and loving and smart and sensitive and full of faith and constantly teaching me how to be good. I’m proud of how she’s growing; happy for the little glimpses I see of the stunning young woman she is becoming.
But already I miss Princess Grace. Something tells me that years and years from now, when my little Grace is a big, grown up lady who has princesses of her own, I’ll still be missing my little girl who twirled out the door in a cloud of chiffon and sequins, dancing her way to the bus stop in her best Sunday shoes with velvet straps and diamond buckles.