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Origami

They stand lined in precise rows on your windowsill, a riot of colour and patterned paper: cranes and standing fans, boats and masu boxes. Your fingers work deftly as you fold the origami squares, your brow furrowing in concentration in the same way as when you were a toddler, trying to decide what to eat from your plate next.

I stand back and watch as you inch your way out of childhood, your long limbs both graceful and awkward as though you don’t quite know how to map this new territory of your growing beauty. With your newly acquired thirteen years, you straddle a threshold between two worlds, giggling as you volley emoji’s back and forth with your friends, the gaggle of girls who await you at the school gates. It’s all about sleepovers now, that togetherness of shared spaces, mattresses crammed tightly together and the shrieks of laughter at your first attempts at applying mascara and blush.

‘Makeup?’ I ask blankly, trying to cast my mind back. ‘You’re trying on makeup?’

You look at me then, a hint of humour glinting in your eyes. ‘Mama,’ you sigh. ‘You really don’t have a clue, do you?’ And you’re right, I don’t have a clue. It’s not just the makeup; I confess I’m unsure how to navigate this new world of the young teenager and the places it takes you. 

Headphones strapped around your ears, you stalk around the house in pyjamas, your strawberry-blond curls bouncing, sometimes breaking into a child-like little jig, sometimes reaching for your phone to connect with your friends. But then you lie, sprawled on your belly in your bedroom and take out your origami and you are lost, the clamour of friends and sleepovers pausing as you surrender to the beautiful symmetry of paper.

6 replies
  1. Shirley
    Shirley says:

    I caught my breath as I read this. It is so delicate, shimmering, fluttering, so evocative of this pause between childhood and young woman. Beautifully written!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Stonehill
      Rebecca Stonehill says:

      Ah, thank you Shirley ♥️ It was such a lovely thing for me to write. She really is on the cusp of two worlds and that’s what I wanted to portray X

      Reply
  2. sustainablemum
    sustainablemum says:

    You have portrayed that completely. This is such a special time in a child’s life, a difficult time when they have a foot in both worlds and would dearly like to be part of both but know that isn’t possible. It is hard for us to navigate this time too, hard to know how to support and guide.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Stonehill
      Rebecca Stonehill says:

      Ah thank you. I loved writing this. I wondered if it was too personal to share here (I don’t know what my daughter would say!) but I’m hoping one day when she is a little older she will read it and it will make her smile, or remember. How old are your children?

      Reply

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