Every Labor Day weekend, we (for "we," read "mostly I") give G's bedroom a massive cleaning so she can start the new school year in a tidy environment. Usually, the cleaning involves a lot of me saying "Let's get rid of this," and G protesting that she needs whatever it is, even though she hasn't touched it in six months.
Not this year, though. This year, barely glancing up from her American Girl magazine, she said I could take her My Little Ponies, her Polly Pockets, her Barbies and all their assorted paraphernalia down to storage because she doesn't play with them anymore. And even though I've been itching to clear all those things out for ages, this made me strangely sad, because I know it's the beginning of the end of an era. She did choose to keep her Littlest Pet Shop collection, her stuffed animals and a few of her superhero action figures, but some of those will go when we do this again next year, and some more the year after that, and eventually all the toys will be gone, and along with them will go the 4- and 5- and 6-year-old G who spent hours playing Barbies and Pollies with her dad. (Among his other talents, P was the undisputed champion at inventing adventures for little plastic dolls. Strange but true.)
Of course this is all totally natural, and I did the same thing when I was around her age, although I think I might have been almost 11 rather than almost 10. It's just one of those transitions that are harder on mothers than they are on children. Children are eager to shake the dust of an earlier phase off their feet; mothers want to catch that dust in a box and preserve it forever. If P were here, though, he'd shake his head, as he often did, and say "She's not a little kid anymore; you've got to let her grow up." He didn't believe in babying kids or holding them back when they were ready to move on, and he was probably right. I'll just have to do my best to follow his advice.