My granddaughter, Tilleigh, turned 5 in December.
And though she is a preschooler, I see a maturity developing that is elevating her to another level of childhood. Before long, my little girl will become a young lady.
Her longtime favorite TV show, "Dora the Explorer," is now a "baby show," she declared last week, as is "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" and most every program on the Sprout channel.
Books are being recategorized as well. We now separate them in two piles -- one for her 21-month-old sister and one for "big girls." That's OK. I get that. But People magazine?
Yes, she looks at People magazine. It's one of the many magazines we subscribe to, so she has always seen them throughout the house. Granted, there are a lot of interesting photographs in People, so I'm not surprised she's interested in looking at the magazine. She is, after all, the granddaughter of a reporter, and our home is saturated with reading material.
Just last week, Tilleigh pointed out model/TV host Heidi Klum in People magazine modeling a sexy Victoria's Secret "angel" costume, a feathered bikini with wings. To a 5-year-old, Klum undoubtedly looks like a princess in the glamorous costume.
"Mom, I want to look like her," she said. "She's beautiful."
I wanted to say, "Yeah, right, baby. We all want to look like her."
Instead, I told her, "Tilleigh, you are beautiful. I would be so sad if you didn't look like you."
She asked me to read the article, which was about Klum's recent separation from her husband Seal.
I took this as an opportunity to talk about marriage and divorce -- why it sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.
Tilleigh's parents are divorced, and only recently, on occasion, does she say something about her mommy (my daughter) and daddy not living together. I explained that sometimes marriages work and sometimes they don't work.
It opened a line of conversation, simple as it was, that turned out to be totally productive. Her innocent questions were intelligent, and the magazine article opened the door for us to communicate freely about her own parents' divorce.
My responsibility as a grandparent is to love her unconditionally and to make certain she feels secure. We only have one childhood, and I want hers to be happy.
I've also started keeping a log of her extraordinary vocabulary, which has led to the creation of our "vocabulary game." I write down her "big" words (and the sentences). A few days later, I read out each word and ask her to reuse them in a sentence. She thinks I'm silly for making a big deal out of what she says, but I also see the pride on her face when I write down the words and when we play the game.
Thankfully, we still play dolls and have tea parties. I won't be ready to give that up anytime soon.
Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...