Watching Her Grow

A few months ago, I was in my daughters’ room, making their beds (don’t get me started), when I ran into Chip the Monkey. Eighteen inches tall, dressed in Army fatigues and sporting a small beret, Chip is the product of a Saturday afternoon trip to the Build-A-Bear store in midtown Manhattan, where my then nine-year-old daughter, Bridgette, constructed him from hide and stuffing — plus ample doses of love.<

The sight brought me up short. Now more than two years old, Chip looked out of place beneath the ceiling posters of Hilary Duff and Usher. I’d assumed Bridgette had outgrown her stuffed animals.

To be sure, a plush menagerie still occupies the lower bunk bed, where my younger daughter, Audrey, sleeps. But that’s understandable. She’s seven.

Bridgey, on the other hand, is my unrepentant tween, my sophisticated sixth grader. Standing there, I surrendered a wistful smile. I also felt a knot in my stomach. How did a throwback like Chip figure into the ever-changing life of my older-than-her-years daughter? And more to the point, why did the sight of him make me feel like crying?

“Like toddlerhood, pre-adolescence is a constant dance of backward and forward motion,” says Sherry Cleary, executive director of the Early Childhood Professional Development Institute at the City University of New York. “As children develop new components to their identity, they take inventory of the identity they had before. It’s as if they always need to check in with who they were as they become who they are.”

I thought back to an earlier time in Bridgette’s life and reflected on the kind of traveling companion I’d been to her as she journeyed from little girl to, well, bigger little girl. I remembered how she cried on the way to her first sleepover. Her friend Bebe lived in Brooklyn, and at five, Bridgey had never flown solo through the night, not even in our own neighborhood. To be honest, I’d given Bridgette mixed signals when she first broached the idea of a long-distance sleepover. I reminded her that Bebe’s family had a dog — and that she wasn’t crazy about dogs. I told her that it’s sometimes scary to wake up in the middle of the night in a strange place. I cautioned that Brooklyn was a little too far from Manhattan for a midnight bail-out.

1 2

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

how we use your e-mail

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.


Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.