Every once in awhile I look at my children and notice that they've suddenly sprung up another inch or two. I'm certain this is an overnight thing. My seven year old is turning eight in another week, and I swear that she has grown something like a foot and a half since last month. One night I was able to carry her to bed, and the next morning she nearly broke my back when I helped her down from a step-stool.
Mrs. Woody and I both remarked how grown up she looks lately. The younger Woodyette can still get away with being our little girl in every sense of the word. She reads like a champion, but when she reads aloud she still has that little girl voice that is so adorable and allows her to get away with nearly everything she attempts. The fact that she reads with more inflection in her voice than most young actresses these days gives Daddy silly ideas about getting her an agent, until reality selects a large enough two-by-four and reminds me that her current level of shyness precludes any overt public display of talent. But Woodyette the Elder...
This is the baby that Mommy saw in a dream so many years ago. This is the little girl that Daddy accused of talking to the ceiling until her baby sister showed up. This is the child that Daddy recognized to have a far quicker mind than Daddy does. She somehow seems to stay one step (or more) ahead of Daddy, but never gets too far ahead of Mommy. She still creates entire universes in play faster than I would have the ability to write down. I literally can't keep track of her characterizations most days.
This child is turning eight.
In a young Mormon life, eight is a significant milestone. At eight years of age, Daddy gets to baptize this wonder-child. Then he gets to watch her grow into a young lady, then a woman, then a Mommy in her own right. And it will all happen so darn'd quickly.
Mrs. Woody and I are getting understandably emotional these days. There is much for which to prepare, and each preparation carries with it punctuation in the form of very large exclamation points. Eight! Already! Baptized! Boys! (Down, Dad... put the gun away!) Ok, boys are still a few years away, but she can already tell a cute one when she sees him. Nuts! Panic! Stop with the exclamations, already!
The changes from little girl to older girl are theoretically subtle. To Mom and Dad, however, they hit like an earthquake. We become visibly shaken and shoot each other a glance that says, "When did she learn to do that?" She carries herself with a confidence (even while being so painfully shy) that we often hoped would manifest itself by now. Her logic is growing by leaps and bounds. She can logic her way through complex spiritual issues, and understands that God, while not visible, is real.
She can pout faster than anyone I've ever seen if she's not getting her way, but she is so consistent in sharing things lovingly with everyone in the family. This includes her little sister who is, alternately, her biggest annoyance and her dearest friend. This is as it should be.
Daddy must now give more substantive answers to her questions. I can't get away with "that's just the way it is" anymore. Now I have to explain why it is that way. Daddy needs to catch up on his homework, because those questions will come up more and more frequently.
Once she is baptized, Mommy and Daddy will have to remind her to repent on occasion. We will have to help her understand that baptism brings with it tremendous responsibility to live a Christ-like life. We will have to prepare her for entering the Temple and finding a worthy young man to take her there someday. She has a mission to fulfill. We're not sure if that means a full time mission, or some objective for which she was set apart, but she was told in her Blessing that she has one. Her sister does, too, and it seems likely they will work in tandem. Those were my impressions, anyway.
I may be a curmudgeon wannabe, but my daughters will always have the ability to melt Daddy's heart. God bless them for that.