January 22, 2013 at 7:30 am | Posted in Life and Living | Leave a comment
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This past weekend I went to my old high school to see the senior show.  My best friend from when I was in high school was directing it, and I always go to her shows to support her.  But this show was different for me than any in the past.  Aside from being in my old high school, I actually knew some of the kids.  They were kids that I babysat when they were 3,4, and 5 years old.  As the show went on, I didn’t even recognize 2 of them, but 1 I knew, and when she started singing her solo, I was amazed and almost brought to tears with the voice that came from her.  I was so proud, all these years later.

Truth be told — if someone was to point out one of my babysitters from when I was a kid, I would not remember them to save my life.  But I couldn’t resist.  I recognized the parents of one of the kids in the audience and had to introduce myself.  I hadn’t seen them since I was 17, but I don’t look that different and they remembered me.  They pulled their son over to meet me again, and I knew he wouldn’t remember me. Like I said, he was way too young.  But before me was a man, a 16 year old man that I used to care for.  It was a very sobering reality that I really am not a kid anymore. How can I be?  The kids I watched aren’t kids anymore.

Back to the girl with the solo.  I got to see her and her parents after the show and was amazed that she actually remembered me.  She was one of my favorite kids (I probably watched over 20 kids in my 6 year career as a babysitter), and she said to me, “You were my favorite babysitter!” and I just melted.  I could hold on to that moment forever.

In watching the show, I was really taken back to when I was once on that same stage.  I remember my relationships and the social situation in school.  I remember and still reminisce about the crazy and sometimes stupid things I did at that age.  As I watched these young men and women bop around on stage for what is likely to be for most of them the last time they ever do something like that, I realized that it was their turn, that these young people were doing all the things that I did.

After a wide-eyed mini heart attack I realized that that was the time to do this.  I came to college way ahead of many of my classmates because of my experiences in high school.  Through my work I see a very different kind of teenager, an urban teenager.  They don’t have the same life experiences as these suburban kids for sure.  They have to deal with much more serious stuff.  These kids have very little to worry about and can make many dumb mistakes knowing that in the end, everything will be okay.

I also realized this.  Some of the emotions you have in high school don’t change.  I look at people I knew when I was young who married their high school sweethearts and I realize how important those formative years really are.  What age does for you is give you more time for more experiences, more time apart from what has happened to review with a new perspective.  There is a lot that you learn, but you can be just as confused or just as certain in your emotions at 30 as you are at 18.

In being with these kids, I immediately felt the need to care for them, to mentor them, kind of like a big sister.  They are about to go off on their next journey, one where they will have to take on a new world of responsibility that they never knew before.  I wanted to hold them close and let them know that it will be fun and it will be okay.  But somehow, they will learn this their own way, as I have.

Baby’s First Birthday

March 15, 2012 at 7:34 am | Posted in Family Ties | Leave a comment
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This week my family is celebrating my nephew’s first birthday.  Last year this week the first grand child on my side of the family, the first boy on my sister-in-law’s side, came into the world, and has already made it a better place. Dare I say he is the glue that keeps our family together, and he isn’t even speaking yet.

He has made some amazing strides and I’ve enjoyed watching him take baby steps in growing up.  I have loved watching him giggle and explore his toys.  I love the cute little outfits he wears that make him look like a little man.  I love his beautiful blue eyes. I am amazed watching him learn and happily celebrate every little triumph.  He has made everyone so happy.  He has changed my family forever, for the better.

And as he continues to grow, he will learn more and more each day. He will take more steps, start growing teeth, eating solid foods. He will talk. He will really and truly know me, almost as well as he knows his mother and father.  He will likely become a big brother, and one day have more cousins from my side of the family.  I know he will make a great cousin to my kids when I am ready.

I’ve enjoyed watching my brother become a dad.  It is crazy to me to sit next to him while he holds this beautiful boy who loves him so much.  I think back to our childhood. I remember things that he did has a child and all of him that I see in this little boy is clear as day.  He is a spitting image of his dad, with the light of his mom.  They have created a safe, comfortable, and fun environment for him, and work hard to keep it that way.  I look to them as models in how to balance work and a family life.  I myself have enough trouble trying to balance my work life with my responsibilities in being an adult and still having time to enjoy not having the responsibilities a parent has.

Watching this baby grow is inspiring, and watching first time parents so naturally nurture him gives me hope for future generations.  Something that I’ve thought often about in my adult life is that most parents are first time parents. It isn’t easy to remember what it is like to be on the other side, begging to do grown up things while your parents hold you back, typically for your own good.  Parents simply try to make the best decisions they can for their children, and while as kids we may think of our parents as gods — the ones who know everything, the truth is, just like the rest of us, they have to make it up as they go along.

My nephew has a good family ready to help shape his values, and we have an amazing nephew to remind us of what really matters.

Please Quiet Your Kid

February 9, 2012 at 8:57 am | Posted in Family Ties | 4 Comments
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Before I was the mature, civil 29 year old I am today (wink), I was a rambunctious college kid, a wild teenager, a rebel pre-teen who barely noticed the adults around me, a hyperactive child, a mischievous toddler who once ran away from home and a typical baby who didn’t want to sleep.  For some reason, it is easy to forget all of this, especially when you are in some public place and you hear a screaming or babbling child.

Must be the parents’ fault, right?  Because none of us were ever like that, right?  We were all perfect, well-behaved children.  Can’t you tell by how civilized we all turned out?  We never bitch about stupid, meaningless things, except of course screaming children.

I spent a large portion of my twenties away from all forms of children after 6 years of babysitting, and when I was exposed to them again, it was so easy to get aggravated by the shear energy of a child kicking the chair I sat in on that super tight flight – so easy!  Granted, I have a very low level of patience for anyone, really.  But now as more and more children seem to be popping up around me, I am turning a corner.  It’s not their parents’ fault they are loud.  They are still learning the ways of the world, still so innocent and excited about life.  Now when I see a kid acting a little crazy, I just smile.  They are enjoying life and God bless their parents who have to deal with that energy 24 hours a day.

But while I am at least gaining patience for the little people, I am nowhere near wanting my own just yet – so don’t get any ideas!  I am more than happy to spend time with my nephew or my friends’ kids, but I am still fond of the fact that I can return them at the end of a visit. I have my own noisy household to deal with.

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