I don’t remember much about being seven, but here’s what I do remember:
That my teacher, Miss Manley, got married in the middle of the year and then we needed to call her Mrs. Dwyer. She invited us all to her wedding, and I wore my sister’s hand-me-down blue dress with the pretty ribbon on the front. My best friend Jeanne asked me to wear that dress for her birthday, but I forgot.
I remember playing Lost in Space with Carolyn and Cindy, the two girls who lived across the street who were both a year older than I was; I always had to play Penny because I was the youngest, but I really wanted to play Judy. I also remember the smell of the Avon girl’s “lipstick” – sort of chocolate-y and cake batter-ish.
I remember my little brother was born when I was seven. I don’t remember the exact day he came home, but I do remember being annoyed when he would cry in the middle of the night and wake me up. (Our relationship has improved since then.)
That’s really about all I remember. We moved from New Jersey to Texas when I was eight, so it’s easy for me to differentiate years. But I don’t remember much, which bothers me ever so slightly because my daughter just turned seven, and is navigating new landscapes every day, landscapes that bear no resemblance to anything I remember from that time in my life.
She loves screens – computer screens, tv screens, Iphone screens, and we limit her. When I was seven we had one black and white tv with an antenna; watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom followed by the Wonderful World of Disney on a Sunday night was a big deal. Now, we DVR things when we can’t watch them live, or she watches things again and again, while we try mightily to limit all the screen time to under two hours, just like the Wise People say we should.
Life is VERY dramatic for her. She weeps – weeps- when she forgets to bring back her library books, weeps when she has to brush her teeth in the morning. She is highly put out when the teacher rearranges the seating and she has to sit by Guy, who is annoying, and Ivan, who is distracting. She is smart-mouthed and sassy, and when we enact the natural consequences of her bad choices, she sobs again. We don’t spank her, mostly because I don’t think we could. I remember only getting one spanking when I was little, for something we did when we went to Baskin Robbins. To this day I have no idea what I did wrong; there was no connection between bad behavior and the spanking consequence, so that may have factored into our choice not to spank.
She dances. She has moves that come out of some innate musical creature in here that just naturally gets the inference and mood of a song. She invents steps. She shakes her bum in a way that could bring Child Welfare out, so we only let her dance at home.
At seven, she has already figured out the Mommy Guilt card. I don’t think she is actually trying to make me feel guilty, but she is quite articulate and expressive about her displeasure that I am always at work or at a meeting or something. My mom stayed at home with us four kids, which is a different kind of a struggle, but I don’t remember even wishing she was around more. (Nor do I remember wishing she was around less.)
She’s seven, and the world isn’t scary yet. Strangers are still just potential friends and not threats. She still believes in Santa Claus, though she’s a little more suspicious about the Tooth Fairy. She still gets lost in her imagination, playing for hours at a time with her Polly Pockets or stuffed animals or those Little People she just won’t give away yet. To her, the words “fart”, “poop”, and “chicken” are the most hilarious words in the English language.
She tells me I’m the best mom in the world, and that she loves me more than a chicken nugget, and that she will go to the local community college so that she can live with us forever. That will change. But for now, while she’s seven, I’m glad she loves us so much and so freely. Everyone should have a seven-year-old in their life, if only to remind them how fun and complex the world is.