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My "Little" Girl

I’ve been doing some serious eavesdropping of late, observing the back-and-forth between mothers and their young daughters as they do their back-to-school shopping. I came upon one mother who lectured her little girl about being bossy and exclaimed, “I simply will not tolerate this behavior.” The little girl begged forgiveness because she had picked out a lunchbox for the new school year and the consequence of her behavior was leaving the store without it.

Another mother was in the awkward position of shopping with her daughter and two other little girls when the daughter decided that she didn’t like her friends laying claim to the new Barbie doll she was about to purchase. The mother calmly told her daughter that if she was going to get the doll, she’d have to share it with her friends. The daughter pouted throughout the checkout process.

Watching these moms was an interesting study in parenting, to be sure, but that’s not why I observed their interactions with their daughters so closely. I was watching out of sheer jealousy that my days of back-to-school shopping with young kids have come to an end. It just doesn’t seem right, but over the next few weeks we’re packing our little girl up to head off to college.

A big part of me wanted to say something encouraging to the mothers I observed. They were doing a great job! I wanted to tell them that their little girls will grow up more quickly than they can imagine and to take a deep breath and relish this time. But I kept my mouth shut, swallowed down a big lump in my throat and patted away a little dampness from the corners of my eyes, hoping it appeared that my allergies were way out of control this season.

While this is definitely a “new” type back-to-school season for me, it’s truly is an exciting time for families with school-age children. The process of back-to-school shopping and getting ready for that somewhat exhilarating and frightening first day of school are special milestones in the lives of growing kids. That’s also pretty much how I’d sum up the feelings I’m having as I approach our soon-to-be empty nest—exhilarated and frightened at the same time.

So, here’s to a new school year for all of us. Take the time to cherish the phase your children are in right now because believe me, you’ll be in my shoes sooner than you think, scratching your head and wondering how they grew up so quickly.

Karin Calloway is a wife, mother of two college students, journalist and recipe developer who writes the Wednesday cooking column for The Augusta Chronicle ( You can follow Karin at Check out Karin’s cooking blog at


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