By Shannon Ralph/The Next Family
1. She wants to be cuddled like the little girl she was not so very long ago.
2. Until she doesn't. Don't even think about touching her when she doesn't!
3. You are her very favorite person in the entire world... ever. Seriously.
4. Until five minutes later, when she can't stand the sound of your shrill voice and can't bear the sight of your smug face.
5. By dinner, you will be BFFs again.
6. She's witty. Almost too witty for her own good.
7. She is really funny. Hilarious, even.
8. You are not funny. Ever.
9. She can slam a door with the force and fury of an F5 tornado.
10. But she cannot close a cabinet or the refrigerator to save her life.
11. She will hate anything you buy for her to wear. It doesn't matter if she LOVES the same shirt in blue. She will hate it when you buy it in green. If you pick it out, it will suck. Plain and simple.
12. She will use all of your lotion. And your shampoo. And your body scrub. And your $43 bottle of retinol-rich-natural-wheat-protein-shiitake-mushroom-Anogeissus-tree-bark-infused anti-aging serum.
13. She secretly (or not so secretly) wants to wear make-up.
14. Don't let her.
15. If you tell her she cannot wear her fleece-lined winter boots to Target -- on July 12th, when the heat index is 102 -- you are an asshole. It really is for the best if you just go ahead and embrace your asshole-ness right now.
16. She could eat fruit snacks seven days a week, for every meal. To suggest otherwise is folly.
17. She thinks you can do anything. She's right.
18. She thinks she can do anything. Again, she's right.
19. One day soon, she will seriously doubt her ability to do anything. It is your job to remind her of the truth.
20. She needs her privacy. She will loudly demand it if you forget this fact.
21. This week, she'll want to play soccer. Next week, ballet. The week after that, karate. It's OK for her to "try on" a variety of activities as she figures out who she is.
22. Pink is for little girls. She wants a turquoise and lime green bedroom.
23. She is terrified of being different from other girls.
24. She has multiple personalities.
25. But it's perfectly normal, so don't fret too much.
26. She has discovered sarcasm.
27. But she's not nearly as tough as her excellent grasp of the sublime subtleties of sarcasm would suggest.
28. Be gentle. She can dish it out, but she can't take it.
29. She still needs her mommy.
30. But she will never admit it.
31. She looks to you for clues about how she will navigate this world as a woman.
32. Please act accordingly.
33. She craves your approval. She wants you to tell her she is doing a good job. She desperately needs your praise.
34. Expect vicious eye rolls when you do praise her, however. DO NOT be deterred.
35. She will beg to adopt every stray rabbit, squirrel, bird, kitten, puppy, frog and turtle that wanders into your yard.
36. But she would gladly sell her younger brother to the highest bidder.
37. She likes to spend your money. And she's quite good at it.
38. She isn't you.
39. She may look like you. She may act like you. She may sound like you. But she is her own person.
40. Don't try to make her you.
41. She reads cool books now -- like Harry Potter and Judy Blume and The Chronicles of Narnia.
42. And she watches movies and television that do not involve Dora the Explorer or Thomas the Tank Engine or that bald miscreant, Caillou.
43. Take advantage of this, and talk about literature and movies and television with her. She has a lot to say.
44. Meltdowns are still a thing.
45. Particularly when she doesn't get enough sleep.
46. She is a truly amazing mixture of awkward and elegant, gentle and fiery, self-possessed and petrified.
47. But she is starting to compare herself to others.
48. She will inevitably find herself lacking.
49. Let her know she is truly wonderful.
50. Every. Single. Day.