It occurred to me tonight, after reading Pioneer Woman's blog entry for today, that there is one thing I don't blog about nearly enough. Some nights I struggle to find a topic, and I have a ton of fodder just sitting up in my brain waiting to be used.
It's all about my Sweet Girl.
Pioneer Woman has FOUR children, and she sometimes devotes an entire blog post to one of them, and I rarely write about the ONE child I have and how proud I am of her.
I stumbled onto this epiphany while she and I were texting back and forth a little while ago. She had just landed in Las Vegas, en route to San Diego to see her cousin. (Only MY child would be headed for the West Coast on the same day a tsunami hits..... I take that back. I'd be willing to bet there are LOTS of folks' children headed to the West Coast on airplanes even as we speak.)
Most of us try to raise our children to be independent, and it is a very sharp double-edged sword. We want them to be independent and able to think for themselves, but when they wander off at a water-based theme park and you find them ONLY after a park attendant has purchased a popsicle, you have to wonder if they might carry the independence thing just a wee bit too far. Or when a child is, oh let's just say, hypothetically speaking, around the age of nine, and he or SHE wanders away from three adults in the train station in MUNICH, absolutely comfortable in her ability to walk around by herself in a country where she doesn't speak the language.
Naturally her independence caused us to butt heads over the years (still does on some occasions), but I'm so proud of what she's done and who she's become. She has served in the Navy for 8 years, been to a gazillion places, bought a home and lived completely on her own, and she is very comfortable hopping on a plane and flying across the country all alone to visit her closest cousin. I used to teach with a young woman who had NEVER spent the night alone. NEVER. She went straight from her parents' home to her husband's, and when he had to travel out of town on business, she always had one of her students or former students come spend the night at her house so she wouldn't have to be alone. I tell every young lady I get the chance to say it to, "You need to live completely by yourself at least once in your life."
She has never been afraid of the water. NEVER. Perhaps she was destined to be a part of the Navy, even if she is in aviation. She would have been perfectly happy without the water wings.
I have no idea why she climbed into this laundry basket, but she was playing when she did it. She jumped in it and giggled wildly, but then she fell asleep. She had started sucking her thumb when she was four months old. I remember thinking how cute it was. And I didn't have to keep up with a pacifier! When she was ten YEARS old, however, it wasn't quite as cute anymore. I think she finally stopped sucking her thumb when she started going to sleepovers. Notice the painted fingernails that contrast nicely with the rather large gash on her forehead. It's a wonder I didn't go to jail for child abuse; she was always scratched up/cut up/bruised. Oh, and once we had to take a snake away from her. She cried.
I had a large (16" by 20") framed print of this picture, and I lost custody of it in my divorce. I have grieved over the loss of that picture way more than the end of the marriage. Even more than my books. And I'm sure my ex's new wife didn't keep the portrait around either. They probably threw it out. Butt heads.
She will be leaving the Navy in June, and not of her own choosing. She missed the minimum score on her promotion exam by half a point. HALF A POINT. It was her last try, so she will be processed out right after her eighth anniversary. Here they've got a person who WANTS to serve, is GOOD at her job (but perhaps stinks at taking tests), and is an EXCELLENT aviation mechanic, and they are forcing her out. Perhaps the powers-that-be haven't heard of North Korea. Or Libya. They may be needing a few extra good helicopter mechanics. She isn't sure what she's going to do yet, but I have no doubt that she will land on her feet, and she will be good at whatever she finds to do.
She held down a job from the time she was fifteen years old. She played in the band when she was in high school, and I never had to worry about where she was. She was either at school, at cheerleading practice, at band practice, at work, or she was in transit between two of those. She never smoked, she didn't drink (even after she joined the Navy, when some of her shipmates got busted for underage drinking, she asked me, "Don't they understand it's against the LAW?"), she didn't do drugs, she didn't wear outlandish clothes or hairstyles or do things to her body that would make me embarrassed to be seen in public with her, and she didn't make me a grandmother before my time. I don't give a damn if she NEVER passes another test; I'm proud to call her mine.
She and the cousin she has gone to visit are only six months apart in age, and we were just tacky enough to dress them alike when they were young. People would often ask if they were twins, and we loved to see their jaws fall open when we replied, "No, they're six months apart."
She is grown up and on her own, but she still calls me almost daily, and we send lots of text messages. She calls for advice, which she never takes (ha ha ha ha ha ha, Sweet Girl), but it makes me feel useful that she asks anyway. One of these days I'll learn to tell her the OPPOSITE of what I really think, and maybe then she will follow some of my words of wisdom. It warms my heart for her to text and/or call me on every leg of her journey. It's times like these that I really appreciate cell phones.
It hasn't always been sunshine and roses between us, of course. We still have our little spats even now. I will always have a scar on my heart from where she broke it in October of 2007, and that is what I'm using to justify putting this picture in my blog. PLEASE click on the picture to get the full effect.
I love you, my precious girl. Safe travels to you, and give your cousin a hug from me.