At eleven, my daughter has the coltish legs of someone who hasn't quite matured into her latest growth spurt.
At eleven, my daughter will fuss over her hair, but forget to brush her teeth.
At eleven, my daughter listens in on grown-up conversation. She knows a lot more than her older sister did at the same age.
At eleven, my daughter still tells me (most*) of her secrets.
At eleven, my daughter likes me to read to her. We are working our way through the Little House on the Prairie books - a series that I also loved as a child. (She got some of the more obscure titles for her birthday.) She likes books with spirited heroines.
At eleven, my daughter wants to help me in the kitchen.
At eleven, my daughter understands the world in a way that is precociously wise . . . and yet so innocent, too.
At eleven, my youngest daughter will kiss me - without embarrassment - on a city bus. (My older daughter scowls at us. "Stop it," she says, in a hostile voice.)
At eleven, my daughter is uninterested in cell phones. She enjoys her friends, but they are not all the world to her. She has a solitary streak.
At eleven, my daughter and her friends still bring their teddy bears to sleepover parties. They wear sweet flannel pajamas. They talk unselfconsciously when a mother enters the room. And yet: they experiment with make-up, know all of the lyrics to the Katy Perry album and dress up as the St. Trinian's girls. "I'm a posh tottie," one of them says to me. (I'm speechless. "That's nice, dear," I choke out like someone's maiden aunt.)
At eleven, my daughter is still holding tightly to me with one hand, but reaching out beyond me with the other.