Friday, August 16, 2013

Madison is in high school

Not very long ago—I’m sure it was yesterday—Maddie, my first grandchild, was a beautiful baby with dark, curly hair and wide brown eyes that stared at me when someone said, "This is your Juju." Then she was a toddler, walking and talking early, so beautiful that people in restaurants and shopping malls stopped to comment. It made her mom nervous, and she’d say, “No, no, she’s not that beautiful.” She was our diva, the focus of family gatherings, given to temper tantrums over we weren’t sure what. I remember once it had something to do with a special dress, and I was the only one she’d come near—not her mom or her Aunt Jordan. Pleased me no end. Another time, spending the night here with her mom, she wanted all eyes on her and said, “Stop talking, Juju.”

Then suddenly she was in school. Once I visited her class, at the suggestion of a teacher, but the day I went there was a substitute who said, “Maddie’s grandmother is here because she has wrote some books.”  I considered fainting. The teacher provided no guidance as I tried to talk to the kids, but it didn’t faze Maddie. She took over the class.

As other grandchildren came along, Maddie was the caretaker—she played with them, changed their diapers, got them into pajamas—and they adored her. By then she had Eden, her younger sister, and being the two oldest they often shared babysitting chores. Once—only once—Maddie spent a weekend with me when Jacob was a toddler, and she played with him most of the weekend. At the time, she said it was the best weekend of her life, but she never came back without her family.

There are so many memories—one phase I remember distinctly is American Girl dolls and how pleased she was to get one for Christmas.
Another Christmas, she saved money to buy me a turquoise bracelet because she knew how much I love turquoise. She was front and center at a family gathering where she sang for us in a beautiful, clear voice, and we thought she had a future in music. She sang in the Frisco Youth Choir, and she wanted to go to Julliard. But then she wanted to be a chef, a teacher, a writer. She wrote wonderful funny pieces about her mom and dad and one about me as a role model which I can almost recite verbatim because it thrilled me so. Now her goal is to play basketball, and she’s darn good at it.
Maddie with basketball superstar Kevin Durant
at basketball camp this summer

Maddie’s strong, with an independent will and, for fourteen, an amazing sense of who she is. But she’s not the rebellious teen-ager. No insolence, no piercings, none of the things parents dread. Perfect? No, I’m sure she’s not. But as a granddaughter, she comes darn close.

Maddie starts high school next week. How did that happen? She’s grown up behind my back. In recent years, I haven’t seen as much of her—her family has an enormously busy schedule, including her heavy involvement in basketball and Eden’s track activities, and when she’s here, Maddie has her nose in a video game or a book—I’m amazed at how easily she transitions from print to digital. But where I once understood her world, these days she lives and moves in a world I don’t understand—a basketball, digital, hip world. And she’s going off to a new adventure.

There are six others behind her, and I know they to will go through these various phases and eventually I won’t understand their worlds either. But I trust them to grow into good people. Meantime, I’d sure like to put some bricks on their heads to stop all this growing up.
Morgan, who just earned her blue belt in karate
Kegan, who was named Soccer Star of his team
Stay sweet, my Maddie. I love you, and you carry my best wishes with you as you start this next phase of your life.


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