The Streetlights

My middle daughter, age five, watches an online makeup tutorial and applies her own lipstick and eyeshadow. It’s far from perfect, but much better than I would have thought, and she’s so proud. My son, age four, gets a nosebleed. Once upon a time, this would cause him great distress – but now he knows how to deal with it himself, pinching the bridge of his nose and laughing it off.

They want to go to the park. It’s only down the street, but so far they’ve never gone without me. I need to cook dinner, so I think it’s high time they go alone. I give them a quick rundown of the rules, and they’re so excited. My daughter asks when they have to be home.

I take a deep breath, relishing this moment.

“When the streetlights come on,” I say.

They skip down the street, laughing with each other.

My oldest daughter, age ten, returns home from her hair appointment. She’s decided to dye it purple, and it looks wonderful. I gush, of course. Her own decision, her own agency. She’ll have purple hair next week during her karate belt test, and I’ll be beaming with pride watching someone in charge of her own life in so many ways.

She asks where her brother and sister are, and I tell her. She wants to hang out with them, so she bounces off to the park to join them.

Time passes, and life is good.

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