If you know me at all, I've mentioned her probably about a thousand times. You might recognize her from the crafting we did the other night (read about that here). She's nine, but I remember the day she was born. She's not related to me by blood or anything, but she's like a little sister. Today's family members can't be solely defined by paternity anyway.
Everything I've learned about kids and dealing with them, I learned from this girl. And with all that experience I could open a daycare, easily. Don't believe me? Try my almost famous grilled cheese and chips and you'll whistle another tune. Diapers, tantrums, the "Why" game, I've got it down.
For those of you that don't know, the "Why" game isn't really a game. It's when young kids (around 4) ask a question, receive an answer, yet persistently ask why. And, to "win" he game, a person has to come up with a sensible answer to all of the child's why's. Whitney was a pro, but I always won.
The summer before I left for college, my job was to be a full-time babysitter for this girl, who was six at the time. We spent every day together. That meant a lot of fits, a obscene amounts of Hannah Montana, and even more people mistaking me for her mom. (Uhm, I was 12 when she was born. Not likely).
I remember the conversations we used to have. This girl is smart. I could carry on a peer-level conversation with her since she was four. She's funny too, and those drives around town throughout the long summer days reminded me of what it was like to be a kid.
But being home this weekend and spending even a minute with that girl took me back to third grade again. I picked her up yesterday afternoon, and she immediately stated to talk me ear off. She told me about school, her birthday party, and anything else she could fit into a sentence between breaths.
Two things she said really stood out to me and are still making me laugh.
First, she shared a little bit of Beiber Fever with me. As a surpise birthday present from mom, Whitney made a trip to OKC to see the teen heartthrob in concert. it was her first concert ever!
"We got there and it was SO loud, and he sang all of the songs... It was SOOO sweet and awesome. We stayed until like TEN O'CLOCK.... AT NIGHT....... ON A SCHOOL NIGHT.... I didn't get home til midnight, but I still got up for school the next day, no problem. I woke up even earlier than normal."
It still makes me laugh. The second conversation we had really stuck with me though.... And it kind of came out of nowhere. I couldn't help but just laugh as she was talking, to which she rolled her eyes and pled her case more.
"Frances, you don't even know how busy I am. Do you know?"
"Sure don't, Whit."
"Well, I have to get up, go to school ALL day every day. Monday's and Wednesday's I have soccer, then the other days I go with Papa to let the dogs out! And basketball is starting soon! Man!"
I mean, I'm not writing this patronize the girl. She's nine. I think she is busy for being nine. But don't you miss that? Am I the only person that misses the days when the biggest decision I had to make was what flavor jelly I wanted on my sandwich? Those days were so so so so so simple. Carefree. Fun. Without consequence...... mostly.
I think I'm coming down with a terrible case of growing up. With internships, bills, career fairs, rent, and resumés, it's hard to avoid.
I understand that it's just another part of life. But I'm terrified. Part of me, even if it is a small part, wishes I could go back to being nine. Or heck, if I could stay 21 forever, that would be great.
But the future is staring me in the face.. It's looking all of us dead in the eyes and reminding us that, no matter how hard we try, it's closer each day. I guess it's time to stand up, take a deep breath, and stare right back, remembering one very important fact:
No matter what happens, at least I'm awesome at the "Why" game.