I turn to see that she has connected the top buckle of her car seat.
"Ainsley, that's awesome. You're such a big girl," I say as I connect the bottom harness, "Can you slow down? I don't want you to be grown up yet."
Ainsley smiles as I close the van door and walk around to the driver's seat.
She is quiet as I pull around the neighborhood and out onto the road.
"Mommy?" Ainsley asks.
"Why don't you want me to grow up?" She is a bit sad when she says this. Almost like I just told her Santa didn't come.
"Because I want you to stay my little girl forever," I respond.
"But Mommy, I can't stay your little girl forever. I have to grow up. I am already so big."
I look into the rear view mirror at my not so little girl...her once bald head, full of blond curls...her once tiny body, long enough to touch the passenger seat...her once incomprehensible vocabulary, extensive enough to express feelings and thoughts and ideas.
"I know Ainsley, everyone has to grow up," I say quietly.
"Yep Mommy, everyone has to grow up and I'm going to too," she smiles and looks out the window.
Yes, Ainsley, you are and will.