She has deep blue eyes, a gorgeous smile, and her senior class superlative is “prettiest hair.” That makes sense. She does have the prettiest hair. It’s a gorgeous shade of deep, natural red.
This was true even when she was mostly bald and later, briefly, when it all sort of fluffed around her head like a vibrant dandelion puff.
Graduation. She is the daughter of my very best friend, and when I opened her high school graduation announcement last week I was a bit taken aback. Since when do they let toddlers graduate? She isn’t in preschool, of course, she’s 17 and by the time you read this she will officially be a high school graduate.
I trust, but will need to verify, because I still have the nagging feeling that’s she’s 4.
It’s the oldest cliché but nonetheless true that it seems like just yesterday that this child was born. I’d love nothing more than to bore her to tears with long winded tales of how if it weren’t for ME she wouldn’t even be here.
Alas, it is a testament to my absolute hopelessness as a match maker that when a mutual friend suggested my best friend and his best friend should go out, I thought it over for a nanosecond before saying “nah, it’ll never work.” Fortunately for the graduate, no one listens to me and her parents were introduced, dated and married. They remain happily that way to this day, 19 years later. So I’m not match.com. Sue me.
I was just getting used to my best friend being an old married lady when the happy couple announced they were having a baby. What? We were thrilled for them.
A whole human baby. Wow. She is the first child of any of my peers. She was the scout baby. Hers was the infancy the rest of us watched eagerly, intently, to see if having a baby really ruined your social life.
Through her we came to realize that it did, of course, but that no one ever regrets it.
Nonetheless, I worried that she would grow up to hate me. I’ve loved her since forever, but our early interaction was more about my picking up her mother for a rare movie, dinner or girl’s night out.
I feared she’d equate my face with “Mommy’s leaving” and hate me for it. Fortunately, she didn’t.
When she was 8, we began a tradition of “mom and kids” vacations between her family and mine. This girl gamely traveled all over God’s green earth, putting her fate — and faith — in two moms with no discernible sense of direction and little time for maps.
She entertained her younger brother and my two, too, and became the baby sitter, entertainer and ring leader of the backseat gang. She is the focus of great love and adoration of my daughter (6 years her junior and certain she hung the moon).
When she was 11 she began planning our vacations (perhaps because she’d finally figured out that the mothers rarely consulted a map?).
I will always recall her bounding out to greet me with her carefully organized “Great Big Annual Vacation Binder” at the ready.
If the government should ever need some high powered strategist to plan land or sea invasions with stops for entertainment and good eats, this is your girl. Still in my heart she is so small.
I vividly recall the day we were in the car, when moments into the ride, her tiny 4-year-old voice piped up, calm but emphatic, “I’m not buckled.”
Being thoroughly modern mommies, her mother and I did what any level-headed soul does when faced with an unsecured child. We panicked. Throwing on the flashers and pulling to the berm as if we had a bomb on board until we could fix her booster seat. Precious cargo indeed.
You can imagine, then, why it still startles me to see her twirling a set of car keys in her hand that aren’t multi-colored plastic and emblazoned “Fisher-Price.”
By the time you read this, she will have completed high school. Her mother will cry. I will cry. Her father will make fun of us both. So many memories, so many years.
Didn’t her mother and I just graduate last year? The little girl with the prettiest hair grew up to be funny, artistic and wicked smart. She’s moved from first steps as a toddler to first steps into her future.
Mulling this over, the milestones I remember make sense. Have a firm family foundation, make a plan and be safe. Good advice for a graduate. Good advice for life.
May she, and all our nation’s graduates, have not only pretty hair but pretty hearts and pretty bright futures, too.
< (Kymberly Fosters Seabolt sends best wishes to every graduate of any level for a beautiful and bright future. She welcomes comments c/o LifeOutLoud@comcast.net; P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460 or www.kymberlyfosterseabolt.com.)