college

Have you ever noticed how little children interact with other kids? They don’t have to be kids who are younger than they are, and in fact most often it is kids who are older and bigger than they are. It seems that at one time or another, those little kids all have to squat down to look up at another child. This comes, of course, from watching their parents squat down to talk to them. They just think that is how you talk to people. My grand niece, Siara was no exception to that rule. Even though she was, and still is, smaller than most people her age, she thought the proper way to talk to people was to squat down and then look up at them. It was the funniest thing to watch. She thought she was being such a big girl. For her, I suppose that time of people squatting down to talk to her went on longer than most kids, because she was so little. 

Of course, those days of childhood innocence and childlike ideas are quickly over, as children mature and find out why people do things like squatting down to talk to a child. Sometimes I wish those cute little moments could last forever, but then we would not get to meet the adult the child will become, so I guess it is for the best that they grow up. I just wish the years would not fly by so very fast. When I look at this picture, and think back to the time when Siara was just a little toddler, it makes me feel a little bit sad that her childhood is over now. It feels like it was just yesterday the she arrived into our lives, the teeny little daughter of my teeny little niece, Chantel. 

Today we are attending a going away party for Siara, who is leaving tomorrow for college in Great Falls, Montana. I’m sure the party will be filled with laughter and tears, since we are happy for her to be starting this next chapter in her life, but sorry for ourselves that this chapter is over and she will be leaving us for a while. Yes, she will be back a Christmas, and next summer, but that is simply not the same at all, and looking at the beautiful woman she has become, I find myself feeling very proud of her, and yet, still missing the little teeny girl who thought she needed to be squatting down to look up to talk to people.

On Saturday, at a baby shower for her sister, I watched my niece, Chantel struggle with the fact that her daughter is going to be going to college in Montana, and it is a 10 hour drive, which will make weekend visits impossible. As the tears flowed, triggered by advise she was reading to her sister on raising kids, my heart just ached for her. The game was meant to be fun, but for Chantel, well, it just made her wish she could turn back the clock. She and her daughter have always been close and the thought of her moving so far away leaves an emptiness that can’t be filled. Yes, they will Skype and there may be a trip or two before the weather gets to where that is dangerous, and they will fly Siara home for Christmas, but that still leaves a lot of days without her daughter…her baby being in her everyday life.

That is a tough place to be, but unfortunately it is also one of the seasons of life. My thoughts went back to some of the seasons of life that have torn at my heart. Probably one of the first ones that I remember, and was when my sister, Cheryl who is Chantel’s mother was moving to New York. We were also faced with the fact that we would be able to see her, maybe once a year, and the days leading up to that move were filled with quite a few teary moments too. Then there came my sister Caryl’s move to San Diego, and while that move was easier in terms of the fact that we had been down this road before, it was still very hard. We are simply a family of people who stay close to home. We are all in Wyoming at this point, except one nephew, Allen, soon to be stationed in Japan for 2 years and one niece, Lindsay in college in South Dakota, and now Siara in Montana.  We just like to be close to each other.

I remembered my own seasons, which while not as hard were nevertheless, hard at the time. Corrie getting married. That first child leaving home moment is a hard one, even when they don’t move away, and then there is a semi-funny moment, when Amy went to pre-school, and was so excited that she left me at the door. I was the whiny one who had to go in the room and kiss her goodbye, hahaha.

My thoughts wandered back to Chantel, and her breaking heart, and while I knew that this moment felt to her like she would never feel better, I knew also, that she would. The sting of those feelings eases with time, and while a dull, lonely ache hurts in its own way, it is easier than the intense pain of the moment. My guess is that Siara, like most of our family, will return to Casper after college, and the season for leaving will be for Chantel, a distant memory.

When Siara was born, we knew she would most likely be small, given the size of her parents. My niece Chantel is 4’10” and Siara’s dad, Tim, about 5’4″. She was such a teeny little baby, and just as cute as a button. She was always a little ham, like her mom, and loved posing for pictures. That hasn’t changed one bit. Of course, being very photogenic doesn’t hurt anything either. Still, cheerleading was never what I thought Siara would choose to do. Now, I can’t imagine why it never occurred to me. She is perfect for that sport. She is energetic and enthusiastic. She is quick to smile, and her bubbly personality brings out the best in people. She knows how to get people excite about the game and get them cheering. I suppose that could be the training she has received, but I think it was always something that was inside her, and now it is coming out.

Given her small size, I never would have figured her for a power house, but that is exactly what she is. I never knew that until I saw some of the pictures from her performance in The American Grand National Championship Cheerleading competition. All I can say is that Siara has amazing strength…and now she is a national champion…impressive!! She is strong and capable. And she is very talented. She is dedicated and works hard to make the entire squad look good…they all do. They are a team. She doesn’t like it when people think of what she does as some namby, pamby girly thing, because it is a true sport, and Siara has the bruises to prove it.

Today, our little power house turns 18, and I find that very hard to believe. Maybe that is because she never grew beyond 4′ 9″, and so it seems as thought she is still just a little girl, or maybe it’s just that it’s always hard to believe that kids grow up. Whatever the reason, our little teeny girl is all grown up today. She has been weighing her options to decide what she wants to do with her life and what college she might want to go to. The way I see it…while she will never be a big girl, no matter what she decides to do, I know that she will give it her all, just like she has done with cheerleading and high school. We are very proud of Siara’s accomplishments. And today, I want to wish you a very happy 18th birthday Siara. We all love you very much.

Today is my niece Michelle’s birthday. She also just graduated from college. She will be continuing to the next level in college, but has not fully decided where that will be yet. Michelle is studying to be an art teacher, and there is much more to that than I ever imagined. She needs so many art classes that 4 years is not enough to finish it all. It takes much dedication, and I am very proud of her. I am also very much in awe of her abilities. Her work is amazing.

Michelle has the kind of mind that is filled with beauty. The kind of mind that creates beauty all around her. She also has that ability to share her talent by teaching it to others. Not everyone can be a teacher…that takes a very special ability, and it is one that Michelle definitely has. The students she had while student teaching were so blessed to have Michelle as a teacher, and I know her future students will also feel the same way.

Michelle, I don’t know where your plans will take you next, but I know that you will be greatly missed around here. And I truly hope that you won’t be gone forever, because I believe that our school system needs good teachers like you will be, and our students need the benefit of a creative mind like you have. I also know that wherever you go, the students who come out of your classes will be thankful to have been in them.

I look forward to seeing more of your work, Michelle, and I still think that you need a website to show it off. Great artists should never hide their work away. I know this is something you have had in mind, and I hope you will not put it off any longer. I am very excited about your future and I look forward to seeing much more of your beautiful work. I’m very proud of you Michelle, and I wish you a very happy birthday, and all the greatest and most wonderful things for your future. I love you very much!! Have a great day!

It’s strange how we can look at our friends’ lives and think that they have it all, and at the same time they are looking at our lives and thinking that we have it all. I was reading a story today about three friends. One started college and quit to start a family, the second finished college and started a family, and the third finished college and didn’t marry or have children. Each thought the others had the better life. We always seem to think that, instead of being content with what we have. It is ok to want a certain life…to plan for what you want in the future, but when things don’t turn out as planned, we need to learn to be content with what we have been given.

No matter how bleak our life might seem, there is much that is good about it. We have been given many gifts and abilities. True the first mother never finished college, and the second mother didn’t use her education, and the third never had a family, but each had something the others wished they did. After repeated letters to each other complaining about what they had missed and being told how blessed they were, each decided that their life was really very special, and they really didn’t want what the others had.

That is a lesson we all need to learn. There are times in each life when we look back and wonder what might have been, but most of us realize that “what might have been” probably would not have been the best thing for us. The choices we make may not be perfect, but the majority of us lead happy lives, and those who don’t could if they would just quit looking back and be content with the blessings they have.

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