The other day, on the occasion of my granddaughter’s eighth birthday, I called to wish her a great day of celebration.
Among other things, I talked with her about her little book project, because her mom sent a copy of her drawings, some of the text, and the cover. She explained her plan to self-publish.
Yes, she’s only eight.
Her mom is helping.
We went on to discuss her ‘party at home’ with her family – understanding group birthday parties aren’t OK right now, she misses her school and friends, and that doing school work from home is OK.
It was a great call – like so many special moments when we end conversations, I said, “I love you, Isla,” and she replied, “I love your grandpa.”
That sounds like the best kind of call – a beautiful glimpse into her special day.
But there was a lot more:
We all understand the term ‘rights of passage’ – when we turn 13 to become a teenager, at 14 to get a learner’s permit, at 16 we can drive, at 18 we can vote, drink, contractually be an adult, and at 21 we can smile – because we are definitely an adult then.
But, a right of passage at eight?
As Isla explained, when you go to the pool, you go with your parents – just like always, but when you are under eight you can’t swim alone, you have to stay with an adult.
BUT, when you are eight, the rules change: you are allowed to swim without an adult at your side.
Well, she knows!
Now that I know, I agree it is a huge deal.
The rest of the world is gripped in a life-altering experience – a once in a lifetime trip to the land of COVID, so caught up in it all we might miss important milestone events in the lives of ordinary people, particularly the magical moments of being eight.
While everyone is wrestling with what life will be like, there is one little girl whose life changed the other day.
She was seven for a whole year, and then one day, she was eight. Something magical happened because she is now allowed to do something she was previously limited from doing.
The milestones we remember – those rights of passage are so important as they approach, and then we are soaring past them, that we don’t look back that often.
As we get older, they become more like millstones than milestones, so it is so much fun to see/hear the excitement in someone’s voice when their right of passage moment is upon them.
We all love freedom, thirst for freedom – and react viscerally when we lose freedom, or when our rights to do certain things are curtailed – something we are all learning to cope with right now.
But right now, I’m just thrilled for every eight-year-old out there – and for one of them in particular.
I wonder what you are allowed to do when you are turning nine?
This gives a whole new slant for me, appreciating children’s birthdays – because they mean they get new freedoms, new rights – and I’ll not spend much time remembering my own, and more time paying attention to the magic of birthdays for children and grandchildren.