This Is Childhood – Seven

Esther runs down the sidewalk towards me. Her ‘just off the bus’ look – disheveled braids, peanut butter dried on the side of her mouth, an off-center headband, a backpack sitting low and heavy off one shoulder, her skirt slightly turned to the side, the side-seam now showing in the front, worn-at-the-knees bright pink leggings, and her most noticeable attribute, a wide smile always on the verge of laughter as she lunges at me for a full-body hug and a kiss – including an “I love you mom!” for all the world to see and hear.

She turns eight this week.


At seven she is as unique as her mismatched leggings and shoe choice; and as colorful and imaginative as her pink headband and her non-uniform braids.


She is seven. Yet her seven is nothing like her sister’s seven two short years ago. While I’ve now enjoyed nearly 730 days of ‘sevens’ in my house, there’s no stereotype I can share with you that perfectly captures this magical age.


It turns out that seven can be complicated.

For one child, seven is second grade, spending more times with friends, starting sleep-overs and giggling with girls in the lunchroom while declaring “boys are still quite stinky.”


For another, seven is second grade, not worrying about the other girls, including boys in her list of best friends, and never sitting in the same spot at lunch.


Seven for one can mean starting to care about what other people think, insisting on wearing the ‘right’ clothes(and starting to shop at Justice, dear God), listening to the ‘right’ music, and fretting about what ‘he said/she said’ while realizing there is drama in the real world, not just what you see on Dance Moms on Tuesday nights when your mom lets you stay up late to watch non-quality TV.


Because seven can mean a more liberal bedtime…and an appreciation of non-animated shows.

Or seven for the other can mean not having a care about those things, living with your head in the clouds of happy oblivion while wearing twirly skirts, tights, Mary Janes, big bows, and watching episode after episode of Doc McStuffins with your baby sister.


Esther is snuggled in my arms. We are squished together on a chair. Just us, her blanket, four Pillow Pets and our cat. “Mom, do you think I’ll ever see a real unicorn, because that is my one big dream you know.” Esther says quietly as my lips meet her cheek. “I hope so Esther.” I say as I close my eyes and truly see her with the white unicorns in a green field with rainbows shining above her in the sky. “I dream of the land of unicorns where you will play one day. Anything is possible.”  Eloise, the former seven year old across the room interrupts us, “Mom, you’ve got to be kidding! Don’t encourage her!”


Because that first seven meant knowing all the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me.” While this seven means that you dance with your little sister in the living room during Yo Gabba Gabba and don’t mind anyone hearing you when you say you have a ‘party in your tummy…so yummy, so yummy!’


Seven for one questioned Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, if the world is really round, her bedtime, what was on her plate at dinner, why homework was really that important, the logic behind snow-pants when it was below zero, and the reason why my hair was turning grey.


Seven now means writing letters to Santa, drawing pictures for the Tooth Fairy, dancing with unicorns, dressing up as a Disney Princess, and using her Crayolas to color my hair pink and purple – because nothing is prettier than pink and purple…even when you are 44 it seems.

Seven the first time in this house meant moving up to more complicated chapter books; getting lost in Harry Potter or Anne of Green Gables under the covers in her room with a little bitty book light while she should have been sleeping.


While this seven is learning to appreciate a good non-fiction book, researching animals, the human body, the Presidents and the solar system, spouting random facts at the dinner table. Daily we ask her “How in the world did you know that?”


For one of my sevens – it was mastering the jump rope, hanging upside down on the monkey bars and easily getting her legs over on a cartwheel.


For my other – she’s given up on cartwheels(“They’re overrated!”), gets frustrated by the jump rope, finds herself separated from the group of girls in the neighborhood because she can’t physically keep up yet. She’ll be in the next yard over with the two and three year olds playing ‘Ring Around The Rosie’ and pushing them in swings.


I’m in the kitchen preparing dinner while my kids finish their homework at the table. Esther gets up, grabs an apron, while asking if I need help cooking. I give her some simple instructions and the ingredient list and she goes to work on the salad. I stop my work and notice how she doesn’t even need a stool to reach the counter anymore, how she can cut a carrot with the sharp knife, and how the mess of her salad preparation is so minimal compared to a year ago.

Both of my sevens could reach the glasses, pour their own milk, make their own snacks and even remember to clean-up after themselves. And both of my sevens remember to ask others if they also want something from the kitchen.


Both of my sevens liked playing with dolls and their little sister, noticed a friend who needed help and went to the aid of strangers, still slept with a blanket and vied for snuggles on the couch with me.


Because they were still only seven.

So if I may put an umbrella over seven, let me say that it’s one of my favorite years.  It’s the year that children become more coordinated with their bodies as they further develop their minds and gain an acute awareness of the world around them.


Sevens are on a never ending quest for more knowledge and skills.


Thus seven can be exhausting, and it makes you realize that very soon they will know more than you do, can do what you can do, and as they snuggle on your lap you notice their legs have turned long and lanky, their butts bony, and any ‘baby’ about your baby is officially leaving.


I’m folding laundry and Esther wraps her arms around me from behind. She gives me a hard squeeze and an “I love you mom.” I turn to return the hug and ask her what that was for. “Just because you are my mom and I like to hug you” she replies. I kiss the top of her head that now reaches high enough so I’m not even really bending down anymore and say jokingly “Promise me you’ll feel the same way this week once you turn eight, okay?” She giggles as she pulls away, “I’ve decided that I’ll never be too old to love you.”

I’m holding my seven year old to that promise.


Honored to have my turn in our ‘This Is Childhood‘ series. The This is Childhood writers are Aidan DonnelleyKristen Levithan, Nina Bazin, Galit Breen, Allison Slater Tate, Bethany MeyerTracy MorrisonAmanda Magee, Denise Ullem, and Lindsey Mead.

About Tracy

My name is Tracy Morrison and I live in sunny Minnesota. I'm neither British nor a nun - I'm just a Midwesterner with a headache. This is mainly a humor and lifestyle blog that documents the lighter side of parenting. I am an ex-corporate ladder climber turned freelance writer, social media manager, world traveler, and marathon runner. I would love for you to contact me at

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  1. says

    Your seven (almost 8 year old) sounds like she’s lots of fun to be around. Tell her that I completely agree with her on the cartwheels – totally overrated.
    Your take on seven, in its various varieties, is spot on. It makes me a little sad that I’ll never have another seven year old, and that seventeen is right around the corner, but I suspect that seventeen will bring another whole kind of awesome.
    Shannon recently posted..And the Oscar goes to…

  2. says

    I must say, your seven has wicked sense of style! You had me hooked from the very first paragraph–the description of the way they look coming off the bus in the afternoon was spot-on. I’m always a little horrified at the sight of my little ragamuffin.
    Thekitchwitch recently posted..Just Write: The Februarys

  3. says

    This made me laugh and tear up. So beautifully written Tracy. My oldest is seven right now. I need to write my own version of this for her. Gosh…and take some pictures like this too! I really need to learn how to use my camera so my photos turn out like this….
    Nicole @MTDLBlog recently posted..Rolling with It #ShareYourLife

  4. Heather ERichsrud says

    Tracy- I so see these differences in my 2 girls although both wish wish wish that one day they will ride on a real unicorn- in the clouds. I LOVE girls 🙂

  5. says

    Esther is absolutely stunning. Her love of life and her wonderful confidence jump out of those photos. I love your look at Seven–and how you honor the uniqueness of each child’s experience of Seven. And you last line? Goosebumps, every time I read it. xo
    denise recently posted..This Is Childhood: SEVEN

    • says

      Thank you so much, Denise. This was a hard post to write…so many thing about many things for each girl. It was very daunting for me, being included with all of your amazingly, talented writers. I hope I honored it well. Whew. xo

    • says

      I want them to hold onto that little girl-ness as long as humanly possible. Shit, I still believe in Santa. Damn old man never leaves me anything anymore..but I still believe.

  6. says

    Her big dream of the unicorn? Made me CRY!!! I love her sass and her style and I love how you love her. Complicated indeed. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

  7. Kate says

    As the mother of a seven year old who is still all her own fashion choices, doc mcstuffins, and hugs that are freely given, this makes me smile. I love 7!

    • says

      It makes me happy when they are in no hurry to be ‘big’ and grow-up. Let them stay little and dream a bit longer. Your daughter sounds so amazing.

  8. says

    Oh, Tracy, I love this – the pictures, the words, Harry and Anne, even Justice, all of it. Seven is the age I most recently left behind for good (my kids are 8 and 10 now) and I am so sad to say goodbye. xox

  9. says

    Tracy, I love everything about this piece! Esther sounds so much like my 2nd born. So very different from the first born, and not in quite as much a hurry to grow up. I love picturing Eloise knowing the words to Taylor Swift as well as Esther dancing with Astrid to whatever show is on Nick Jr. Hope your last days of 7 are as sweet as our last (2) days with 6. Sniff sniff.

    Bethany recently posted..Comment on This is Childhood: Six by Seven | The Wink

    • says

      Esther went to bed crying tonight while saying “Mom, I’m looking forward to my birthday because I love a good party…but the whole turning 8 thing is really making me sad.”

  10. says

    Such exuberance, such joy & beauty! I love both of your 7s!! Wow, these photos are stunning & I am looking in amazement as we have watched this beautiful girl (and two others) grow up on your blog. Thank you for sharing them with us! Lovely, utterly lovely! Thanks for this post which makes me nostalgic for two 7s past, and happy for several more to come…yet not too quickly! I’m still trying to savor 5, 3 & 1!
    Melanie H. recently posted..A Crafty Christmas

  11. says

    You described it amazingly well. She’s stunning. And this post is so good.

    Funny how they can be so different at the same age, right? But some the same too…
    Elaine recently posted..What’s Next?

  12. says

    Your posts always give me so much to look forward to with my girls, while still reminding me to hang on to where they are now. Your 7s are lovely!

  13. says

    oh. That last line about “how I’ll never be too old to love you” just make my heart melt and swell.
    She is truly beautiful. So many things about her reminds me of the difference between my sister and me…that even though I was older in years, I have never been older in behavior and still enjoy Doc McStuffins when it’s on, (Like last night when I needed to fold laundry in their room just to keep watching it..but don’t tell ok?)

    I love the differences and because the boys will have 7 together, just like they are having 5 together..the same and different, I know that children are all unique and wonderful and still a mystery to me.

    thank you for showing us, 7 almost 8. Your daughters are just completely gorgeous inside and out.
    Kir recently posted..Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful? {Master Class & Trifecta}

  14. says

    I’m a little tear jerked. Your words are the perfect picture of this age. My youngest is 8, and although he’s growing up faster than I would like, he’s hanging onto so much innocence. He’s still a firm believer in Santa, and already making that list. I won’t be the one to tell him otherwise. Your pictures are gorgeous!
    Adrienne recently posted..I don’t care if this title is SEO friendly.

  15. Ginny says

    I love how you have captured her life! Absolutely beautiful pictures. I wish for her lots of unicorns!

  16. says

    OH my goodness, I can so identify with your post. Last week I was also writing about 7 as my daughter approached her 8th birthday last Friday.
    It is such a shifting age, unpredictable and wonderful, like the cusp of something HUGE. I am so glad to read about another mom’s experience of daughters, thank you.
    Steph@livingbrilliant recently posted..Superwoman makes the best biscuits

  17. says

    I liked the sevens in my house. Now we are a little past 12 and heading towards nine.

    They tell me that I am going to be 44 in May which means I’ll be 50 real soon so I might die in a few years.

    The big guy rolls his eyes at that and tells his little sister that 50 is old, but not ancient and then reinforces it by saying 55 is old.

    The 8.5 year-old tells me to give her two hugs because she isn’t sure if she can give me two when she turns 9, it might not be cool.

    I laugh at all of this, but sometimes I miss 7 because things were simpler then. Of course I’ll say the same things about these ages too.

    Love the pictures of Esther, life and joy radiate from them.
    Jack recently posted..The People In Your Life

    • says

      Thank you so much. There is much wisdom in your comment – probably because you are ancient like I am. 🙂

  18. Krissy says

    First time visitor and finishing with a lump in my throat because I did indeed master the cartwheel by age 7 but also desperately longed to see a real unicorn. You’ve nailed 7. I can suddenly and vividly remember giggly sleepovers, but also remember getting killer headaches because I was a perfectionist in school. I hated the itchy tights my mom made me wear with my itchy sweater and skirt, but could never get enough of my turquoise and pink shorts outfit that I wore with the fold down socks with lace trim. In shorts I could more easily hang upside down on and flip off of the monkey bars. I wanted to be a vet, an astronaut, an archaeologist, and a teacher. 7 is vivid:) Beautiful!


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