My daughter turns 8 this summer. She is my youngest and my only daughter so her upcoming birthday has me thinking in ways that her older brothers did not. It is not only that she is taller, or more wordy, or more sassy than ever before (she has always been sassy). But what strikes me as so strange is that I remember being her age. I remember being an 8-year old little girl with strawberry blond hair and skinny legs skinned at the knees. I remember sparkle nail polish and climbing trees in my stylish new purple shorts. I remember being caught between kid and girl.
I also remember Beverly Cleary. Between the ages of 7 and 10 I read (or was read to) every Beverly Cleary book available. My favorite? The Ramona series. Ramona the Brave, Ramona the Pest, Ramona Quimby Age 8, Ramona and Her Mother, Ramona and her Father. The list goes on and on. Then on to all the many many upper elementary daily life heroes in Ms. Cleary’s joyful stories. So, I introduced my daughter to Ramona. The first paragraph swept me right back to my childhood. You know how certain smells can bring you back to a specific moment in time? The first page of Ramona the Brave took me right back to Denton, Texas. A little girl in a rainbow room listening to a story about another little girl who was just my age. Snuggling next to my mother as she read “Ramona Quimby, brave and fearless, was half running, half skipping to keep up with her big sister Beatrice on their way home from the park.”
Now I am the one reading those words. My daughter’s response? Pleeeeaaase, just one more page mommy. So here we go. Another generation falls in love with that loud, sweet, frustrating, funny, and totally understandable little girl from Oregon.