There is nothing like watching the life span of a child from its infancy to a high school graduation ceremony to make you reflect on life in general.
My oldest, Kristin, is graduating from high school on May 18, 2006. Is she my biological child? No, she is my niece. But since I saw her from her second day on this planet, and have been watching her progress through the years, sometimes it feels like she is mine. When she does something very wonderful, I like to jump in there and take credit… assuming that by some sort of metamorphosis, she inherited a few of my genes. When she does something really stupid, I get the joy of berating my brother and sister-in-law. It’s a win-win scenario for me!
I look back and am so proud of her in all ways known to man! She endured what had to be the most idiotic costume changing/photography session when she was just three days old. Having come home from the hospital, my mother and I determined we needed to get right onto capturing the moments on film. We were only going to be there a few days, so we started snapping pictures of her, jostling her around and changing her clothes… snapping more pictures… repeat exercise until the three day old is screaming to be placed back into the safe confinement of her mother’s womb! (And it was a confinement… Lord, the child weighed nine pounds 13 ounces!)
She was the first grandchild and therefore had the honor (and responsibility) of naming the grandparents. My mother was hoping for Gran… but whenever we’d try to get Kristin to repeat that name, she’d boldly pronounce “Nana”. There was no changing her mind. We went for Granddaddy, and she strongly repeated “Lalolly”. While he would have been ecstatic to hear anything this child said, Lalolly developed into Granddaddy, and all was well with the world. I’m not certain what her other grandparents were hoping for in the way of endearments… but I have a feeling it wasn’t necessarily Pepaw and Gingo… and for years and years to come, that is what all grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be calling them.
Kristin is the first of the next generation in our family and that’s a lot of pressure on a person. She rapidly learned her ABCs and how to count. She loved to play with whatever family pet happened to be around. I laughed while watching her hunt Easter eggs with Nana in the backyard. As soon as her back was turned… Nana would toss another egg on the ground. We’d try to tell her to be careful with them so they wouldn’t break, but she never clued in on what that meant as she slammed the eggs into the basket. The video camera I was holding would begin to jiggle while I laughed. We had plenty of cracked eggs that year.
She isn't afraid to be an individual. She could carry on a conversation with anyone or anything… including her hands. I have great video footage of Kristin as a toddler jabbering away at her hands as if they were her friends. I have no idea what she was saying, but she spoke eloquently and with great inflection in her voice.
She was the first to take dance class and play ball. She stuck with playing ball… but gave up the dance. She was the first to accept the Lord as Savior, and was irritated when those "wise" older people questioned her decision because of her young age. She dressed up like a Spice Girl and had her body parts pierced. When her hair was starting to turn from bright blonde to ash blonde, she started coloring it darker… no matter what other people liked or wanted. She is not afraid to stand alone, but welcomes standing amongst those who support, trust, and love her. She will never be without friends.
I have prayed over this child from her conception to today… and will continue to do so all the years of my life. Is this a perfect child? No. But she is so special. She has grown into a beautiful young woman. She is standing on the precipice of her life and she only has to move upward.