Birthday Baby

It is impossible to figure out where the time has gone. Somewhere between the blissful new baby infatuation, the clingy toddler, the determined child in the dance recital, the see my artwork in the school show, the watch my tennis match, and the help me move into my dorm room, something happened. My child grew up.

claireToday, my baby turns 21. And I know it has been said before by hundreds of thousands of parents, but I swear I do not know how these years have passed in the blink of an eye.

Here are a few things we know about this poised young woman who just a second ago was a colicky, non-stop, real life crybaby:

  • She is smart; not just book smart but really savvy. She has an excellent grasp of how things work, and the common sense know-how to make things happen.
  • She is funny; not in a rolling on the floor in laughter kind of way, but in a pun-making, witty, sharp as a tack way that makes you smile and sometimes roll your eyes.
  • She is academically well-rounded. She excels in writing, is a strong public speaker, has a sharp mind for history and politics, and is also pretty strong in math and physics.
  • She says exactly what she thinks. This is both a blessing and a curse, because not everyone is thick-skinned enough to take what she sometimes dishes out. Be warned: if you ask for her opinion you will always get it. Sometimes you will get it even without the ask.
  • She cares deeply about our planet, about people, about education, about equality for all people, and about peoples’ rights.
  • She believes deeply and spiritually in demonstrating her Christianity, which is also a commitment to humanity.
  • Even when she is flying under the radar she is fierce. She doesn’t always have to take charge, but if others aren’t pulling their weight she will do the work of six people just to make sure her name isn’t on something that doesn’t meet her Mt. Everest-height standards.
  • People notice her striking curly, auburn hair first, but it takes a little while before they see her inner beauty.
  • She is our youngest, and while she occasionally relishes the role of baby of the family, it has also made her a natural competitor in a take-no-prisoners kind of way.

And now she is turning 21 and is a full-fledged adult (except for returning home to live while she’s working during the summer, which is more than fine with us.)

Parents of infants and toddlers take note: CHILDHOOD IS SHORT! So when they want to sit in your lap while you read another story, let them. When they want you to push them on the swing set again, do it. When they want you to watch their soccer match, show up. When they sing or play in a concert, be in the audience. When they just need a hug, give it.

I will freely admit to having made some mistakes when our kids were young. Despite that, they seem to be turning out okay. Watching our daughters now in the bloom of adult-hood, it is a delight to see how self-confident and self-reliant they have become. So today, we no longer have “children,” just two wonderful, young adults.

Happy Birthday to our beautiful, caring, brilliant, big-little girl!

Powerful Words from Powerful Girls

Maybe it’s because I come from a family of girls. I have three sisters and my one brother was definitely the odd man out. Or maybe it’s because my husband and I raised two girls who are now strong young women. But I have an affinity for girls, especially girls who are raising their voices about social issues and justice. Maybe it’s because I am blown away by the power of these young women to stand up and say what they feel to try to make us think, make us act, make us better.

Maybe it’s because I have strong feelings about social justice. Maybe that’s because I was, am, and always will be the middle child who has sometimes had to raise her voice to be heard or work harder to be recognized. Competition is not a bad thing, but justice is and should be, for everyone.

This cause strikes a deep chord with me: increasing teen literacy through poetry. Poetry makes language real. It helps us understand ourselves and each other. It presents a point of view. It allows us to create and innovate as thoughts flow into words on the page and in our mouths and ears. I am inspired by this movement: Get Lit – Words Ignite.

Please watch this video.

Words can rip and words can mend. Words can call out our best and shine a light on our worst. Words can hold us close or push us away.

Words are powerful. So are these girls.