Clearing out the childhood


I always find it hilariously funny, when I hear new parents planning their babies’ nurseries. Whilst the concepts of décor are delightful, I just don’t get how tiny babies really care what their bedroom looks like. Similarly, just as the baby days bid us goodbye, the toddler/kid bedroom takes over, and then, something even more alarming happens: that child grows up, seemingly faster than the pink paint dries.

I know that nearly every parent joins me in this lament – that growing up happens more quickly than we realise and, so often, it happens despite us. We’re left breathless, trying to catch up as our child zooms from pre-school to primary, and is suddenly seated at a rather grown-up desk one evening, meticulously reading through a textbook.

That’s how it’s happened for me. The cherubic, funny-socks-and-pyjamas kid who used to burst out of the cupboard to surprise me, has become the studious and serious pre-teen who is far more interested in her bookshelf, than her Barbie collection.

Wait – before I go there – I’ve never been a great fan of the Barbie life, just as I was never Barney’s best friend either, but I had come to accept it as a phase in my daughter’s growing. I just did not expect it to move on so quickly.

Three years ago, she asked that we remove the television from her bedroom, and replace it with bookshelves. I complied, happily, with this request, and her personal library has grown to a point where we now need more bookshelves, in a big way. Last year, we finally made the dream of bunk beds come true (it’s always been a desire!) and earlier this year, well, the Barbie collection was quietly packed away.

I know I should not be shocked, but I know there was something caught in my eye as we sorted and packed; decided what to donate and keep, and then rearranged her bedroom towards her pre-teen life, and not her little kid past.

Her wardrobe has changed too, and while she’s going through the machinations of finding her own personal sense of style and taste in clothing, my heart is wondering why she doesn’t wear so much pink and purple anymore, and it’s keen to know when exactly she started wearing a bigger size shoe than I do. I’d also like to know the precise moment she grew past the top of my head. She’s now taller than I am.

Things have changed too, in what she watches and reads – the movies have become more themed, and less animated; the books are thicker and more intense to read. Her handwriting has moved from childish scrawl to curved script, and the WhatsApp messages she sends me nowadays are more direct, and less emoji-filled.

But, just as she has charged forth into the world where she grows up, and I must transform my parenting from nurturer to guide, I can’t quite stop my breath from gasping. Packing away the Barbie collection, and moving the milieu from pink pastel to whatever colour scheme she’s keen on today, I know that she remains my child. And, as much as I quietly cried over waving Barney goodbye, the days of princesses and play are slipping away too. Instead, I must now look towards raising a woman, and not a child.

Please, someone, put this box into the storeroom. Turn off the sing-along CD and let’s flip over to the Top 40 count-down. A new part of her life journey has just begun. 

How hard is it to watch your kids grow up or do you embrace each new stage with open arms? Send us your thoughts to and we could publish them.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24