So, the funniest thing happened yesterday. I asked my niece / goddaughter Kelly if she was interested in coming camping with us in a few weeks and she said, "I can't Aunt Patty. I'll be away at school."
Now, this is hilarious since she's only eight.
Er, well, she was a very short decade ago. Gulp. How in the blazes did a whole decade disappear in such a heck-fire hurry, anyway?
College. My baby niece. What the what?
Look, people, this is the little honey I spent every weekday lunch hour with for four consecutive years. The tiny Shirley Temple-topped princess whose every breath was closely monitored by my entire family for the first 60 months or so of her existence.
The first grandchild. The only girl. The original apple of our familial eye. (We've grown two others, as well, btw.) The adorable porcelain doll whom we affectionately call "Kels."
She's just not ready to go off and be all grown up-like. Did I say she? I sorta meant me. It is me who is unready, unwilling ... and pretty much floating down a river called denial.
OK, OK. So, I've known this day was coming since, you know, her birth. But in my defense, I've been successfully and quite blissfully avoiding it up to this point of inevitability. Stupid calendar.
And darned kids. Why do they grow so fast? I mean, why on earth does she want to run off to college anyway? Oh sure, there's the whole learning lessons / skills and receiving an education; growing and becoming self-sufficient; broadening her mind and being ... blah, blah, blah.
Listen, college is scary. I mean, anything could happen to a delicate little flower in college. What if she gets a sore throat or loses her dorm key or they move one of the buildings her classes are in and she can't find it? Hey, it could happen.
Oh, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I'm ridiculous since she's not even my own kid - and that I'm some wingnut aunt who can't wrap her head around the fact that my niece has blossomed into a bright, resourceful adult - and that my own selfish desire to stop time and keep her on an indefinite summer break is somehow warped.
Well, what do you know?
It's not like I'm being irrational here. She's going to be like, a whole hour away. That's a long clip as the crow flies, folks.
And just when I was trolling eBay for a house-arrest collar in Kelly's size, my good friend and Kinsman native Fred Callahan gave me a slap of reality:
"Patty, what do you want to do, make her afraid to be whatever she has it within her to become?"
That guy is really starting to get on my nerves.
The truth is, I couldn't be more proud of my sweet pea. All I want for her (and my son and all my nieces and nephews) is to be safe and happy.
And I know that she is a smart, kind, funny, well-grounded, capable, wonderful, morally-upright and absolutely competent young woman who can achieve any goal in her sights.
Go, do, be Kelly. I believe in you and know you will accomplish tremendous things. I love you more than words.
Just be safe and check in with your parents, your grandparents and your kooky aunt every half-hour or so, OK?
Kimerer is a proud aunt / godmother and completely illogical dork. Contact her immediately with the news that it's really still only 2002 at firstname.lastname@example.org.