My great-niece is seven years old. She is a precocious child, sometimes seeming like an adult in a child's body. She has an uncanny sense for when an adult is just feeding her the "party line" when it comes to things like Santa Claus, where you go when you die and other tough questions. You cannot lie to her; she will bust you every time. And she is my girl.
Here's my girl on the left...
and her mom in 1977, about the same age, on the right.
It's a little scary, isn't it? Let me tell you, sometimes it really messes with my head. I have conversations with my girl that turn into conversations with her mother. All the time. I'm not sure which one I'm talking to.
Her mother was born when I was in the seventh grade so she and I grew up together. She seemed in many ways like my little sister, particularly when it came to arguing. I taught her to drive and, in most situations, we think and act the same. That similarity has carried on with my girl, and that, too, can mess with your head. Recently my girl treated us all to a "concert" with her child-size electric guitar simulator. The "song" plays and the child can make very real sounding guitar effects in the process. My girl's solo was complete with hair tossing, tongue flicking and dance moves she has seen on some video. Almost whole time, her mother and I were locked in eye contact, wordlessly communicating with each other this message, "How strange does it feel to watch yourself reborn in her?" It is very strange.
She isn't a carbon copy of either of us, except in the remarkable resemblance to her mother. She is definitely her own person and special in her own right. Her world is full of potential that I joyfully and hopefully watch her achieve every day. I can't wait to see what she becomes. I have a friend in his 70's who tells me he hopes he lives long enough to see her grow up, just because he knows she will be something special. I share that dream.
My girl was born about a year before Scott and I lost our youngest boy, at age 12, in a car accident. In the dark days and years following, sometimes my girl brought the only moments of joy I could find. She kept me going then and keeps me going now. I have other nieces and nephews who I love dearly, too, but this one is my treasure.
We had a discussion yesterday when the photo in this post was taken. Her mother had put the wash-out pink streaks in her hair to match her new outfit and I told her what a cute little girl she was. She took exception to the classification "little girl," telling me she wasn't little anymore. I told her that in my eyes she was still my "baby girl," so it was a compromise that I even upgraded her to "little." She thought about it and said, "OK, I'll accept that compromise." That's my girl.