Sunday, August 4, 2013

Show me how big your brave is...Sara Bareilles

Happy Birthday to the new teenager in my life!  I’m loving it, but then again, I’m her grandma and can sit back and enjoy the evolution from a biased distance. Now, Mom and Dad --- hang on to your patience, understanding and most of all, your hearts.  She’s sure to unintentionally smash all three to smithereens over the next several years.  Alex, my oldest grand-daughter, turns 13 on Sunday, August 4th.  Born in 2000, this little girl entered the highly anticipated new millennium, a little angel of hope and healing.  The previous year had been a devastating one for the family.  While all of my grandchildren are my most precious gifts, when she came along, the first born, smelling fresh of heaven and God, this tiny person gave me a reason to keep moving forward at a time when I just wanted to lie down and stop breathing.  I’ve watched her grow from an innocent, trusting, happy little spirit, into a young lady, trying in the last year or so, to break open the lipstick as well as the door to adulthood.  Why do they want to grow up so fast?  I know I did too.  I couldn’t wait to be out on my own, away from the control of what I perceived to be rigid rules, only to discover the world had even harder core rules.... and much bigger consequences. When I broke them, the landing wasn’t nearly as gentle as when I was protected by the security of home and family.  I know that’s just a part of the process of growing up, and she will navigate it in her own way.  The only thing I hope to continuously tattoo on the brain of this precious little teen, is the message that no matter what happens in her life, we love her unconditionally and the biggest gift she can give back to the world is to be herself... the uniquely lovely person God made her to be.  And, that is going to take a lifetime of sometimes being very, very, brave. 

Curious Seven
In early years, she was the most spiritual little girl I’d ever seen, praying for others, (even me) comforting and supporting her friends, and so in tune with her faith.  Kind and giving, she learned an important lesson a few years back-  not everyone will reciprocate, nor should everyone be entrusted with your friendship.  Some sadly have their own “stuff” going on and don’t walk the faith they espouse. She also learned in a matter of a year or so, that sometimes death snatches precious people from our lives.   I thought she was a little young to have to learn these harsh lessons, but she grew from them in ways that amazed me.  Crushed for a time, she’s emerged with wisdom and a sense of self-worth and awareness..... she never has to put up with or succumb to the meanness of life’s bullies simply to have friends.  Happily, it didn’t damage the part of her spirit that recognizes the need to still be kind, give back to others, and put her best foot forward while also honoring her values.   

 She was also a highly curious little girl, interested in some rather strange topics for one so small.   She loved history, was enthralled with King Tut and made me promise to take her to Egypt someday.  She would ponder for hours whether the Kennedy assassination was a plot and the fated Titanic and Amelia Earhart  became obsessions for awhile.  She still delves deeply for answers to life’s questions.  But, then the apple doesn’t fall far from her grandmother’s tree!    A bookworm, she reads endlessly, and completed the entire Hunger Games series in less than two weeks. Obsessed with quotes, she reads them to me from her I-pod Touch with the intensity of Socrates, instructing from the podium, stretched out, on the living room sofa.  The human mind and people’s behavior seems to  fascinate her, and she wants to learn so that she can empathise and understand her friends and others.  

A flair for creativity, and fashion, she can put together an outfit and/or a bedroom with style.   She is at an age, where fitting in is still important, but every now and then, I see that inner trendsetter fairy, run a little wild, as she dons a cute, little polka dot dress with a flared skirt reflective of a 50’s dance party.  This is usually worn when she isn’t hanging with her friends- rather to a family wedding reception.   With friends, you will generally find her in a traditional Aeropostle tee shirt, and jean shorts.  She’s intensely loyal and looks for the better qualities in her friends and peers.  

Beautifully 13
But, at thirteen, she can also be as moody as Ohio weather.  She is not fond of mornings, fights like cats and dogs with her younger sisters, and will hideout for hours listening to her music and perusing Instagram.  The sign on her bedroom door - DO NOT DISTURB wards off the family when she’s craving solitude.  After a time she rises from the teenage Jekyll/Hyde syndrome and you begin to question whether an alien had taken the real Alex away and has now returned her to earth space again.  She opens her door to a bedroom organized to perfection, hands out smiles and hugs, cheerfully shares more quotes found online, and even surprised her dad with an uncannily adult letter to him. Just when her parents wonder if she hears anything they try to teach, she let him know how much she admires him, his parenting, and thanked him for his love, boundaries, discipline, and direction. What a gift! 

She was my angel come to earth 13 years ago, and now she is my mentor and teacher of all things technology, introducing me to Facetime, showing me how to open an account on a social media site, and navigate some of the newer apps on my phone. She’s my go- to grand-daughter for profound discussions about the philosophy, lessons, and hidden meanings of all the Pixar and Disney movies.  She hates liars, DRAMA (in all caps as in melodrama), Math, spaghetti, bugs, button-eyed dolls, and bullies. She loves God, family, her friends, Cleveland Indians games, scarves, all things Paris, zebra print, fancy nail polish and painted toes, basketball,  music, relaxation, organizing, books, and movies.   Her new favorite song is Brave by Sara Bareilles and she sings it so powerfully with her naturally pure voice; like a prayer and  a promise.... to herself, her parents, and the world. Everytime I see her step out of her comfort zone and walk through a fear, her little light shines brighter piercing through the shroud of conformity.  She emerges with a few more badges of confidence, and a greater sense of who she is. The butterfly is emerging and what a joy for this Mimi to witness. 

This incredible  young lady stole my heart at birth, and now, I have been privileged to hang out with HER beautiful heart for the last 13 years.  A bear hug last night and a whisper in my ear.... out of earshot of her friends..."I love you SO much Mimi"  will likely tide me over until she's 14, but I know she won't make me wait that long.  Happy Birthday my little teenager! Make a wish... or make 13 of them!   May you always remember to show the world, as you have shown me, how big your brave is!  

You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
When they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave- Sara Bareilles