Today Female Offpring Unit #2 graduates from high school. At 17 years and 9 months of age, she is the youngest in her class. And yet in many ways she has one of the older souls. I was the same way. I was even younger on graduation day — 17 and 7 months — but by then, most of my best friends were two and three years older than me.
Friends tell me it’s a birth-order thing, but this one has always crawled, walked, marched, and danced to a alternative drummer.
The fact that “everybody else is doing it”; or “nobody else is doing it” has rarely factored into the equation. I suppose that’s why this Fall, when all of her friends and classmates will be heading off to college, she’ll already be settled in in Nairobi, Kenya–happily dancing to that beatbox only she and her heavenly Father can hear.
A self-starter, this one. She’s always preferred to tackle new challenges on her own, in private, and in the timing of her own choosing. One day, around the time of her fifth birthday, we realized she had stopped having us tie her shoes for her. Somewhere along the line she had taught herself.
Riding a bicycle without training wheels? She tackled that one on her own, as well. On a visit to her grandparents, she had pulled a dusty old bicycle out of the garage and started riding it around the cul-du-sac. She came in the house later and casually mentioned she now knew how to ride a bike.
(Come to think of it, even potty training had been an exercise in frustration as long as we were actively involved. The breakthrough came when we just handed her a picture book and let her figure it out for herself–which didn’t take long.)
This fierce self-sufficiency is joined by a tendency to keep her cards held tightly to her vest. Often we’ve found out about deep traumas and major victories only well after the fact and usually via a third party. (Thank God her bookend sisters are open books who tell everything they know!)
Of course, to a mother whose primary “love language” is quality time and a father whose native tongue is words of affirmation this has meant adapting relationship expectations to fit the child as God made her, and some walking by parental faith not by sight.
The result is a truly remarkable young woman of whom we are unspeakably proud.
As regular readers know, at the first of this year, I spent several days of solitude, soul-searching and prayer out in Palo Duro Canyon. (I wrote about it here.) In that season, I spent some time praying for, and listening to God about, each of my three daughters. On the day I was hiking and praying for #2, I heard the voice of Lord say something so clearly and emphatically that I stopped and wrote it down in my notebook. He said:
I have made her just as she is . . . with great promise . . . and for great purpose.
There is no question in my mind that every word of this is true. The fact is, God has graced my bride and I with three astonishing gifts–each uniquely wonderful. Each loved and celebrated and enjoyed in a different way.
But today is a day to celebrate one in particular. It is “G’s” day.
Even so, there is a part of me that can’t help but feel a heart-stab of sadness that this season of wonder — this bless-ed growing-up-time — is ending. The years have been so relentless in their blurry passing. Must this adventure be in such a rush to end?
Where does a father go to get this moment back . . .
[click on this picture]
“Kiss for me, Daddy?”
Yes, my daughter. Always. Whatever you do . . . Wherever God’s plan takes you . . . Always, always a kiss for you.