is 18 years old today!
In a lot of ways, it feels like this has snuck up on me somehow. Like every time I blinked, she grew a couple inches and a couple years. She’s no longer growing taller, but she still hasn’t agreed to stop getting older. Not that it was ever a real possibility, but a mother can dream.
Part of me is enjoying BB at this age. I’ve tried to enjoy all the ages, but some have been easier than others. I think I’ve almost gotten over that gut-wrenching instinct to bundle her up in bubble wrap and insert myself between her and the rest of the world. I think that’s partly due to her no longer being in high school marching band. That was an unnecessarily toxic environment (for which we all blame the high school’s concert band director). Now that she’s taking band at the community college (plus an additional course there each semester), things have improved a great deal. She’s no longer spending so much time in bully territory, and she’s gaining experience in an environment more conducive to learning and being who she wants to be.
BB has been tutoring at the elementary school nearest to her high school. She works with one first grade class three afternoons each week. She says it’s been very good for her depression (as service often is). The kids all call her “Miss BB” (except they use her actual name), and the teacher is very grateful to see her each time she comes. BB normally provides one on one assistance with math, and sometimes she confides to me that it can be frustrating working with kids whose light bulbs have yet to actually turn on. Some days she isn’t sure if some of the bulbs are even screwed in all the way yet, but it’s fun when the switch finally flicks to the “on” position. In the meantime, she’s learning patience and how to explain the same concept several different ways.
BB’s driving now, too. She just recently got her learner’s permit and has logged about three hours of behind-the-wheel practice so far — with her father, of course. I’ve been wisely forbidden to ride with her until she’s reached a certain level of competency. I’m completely on board with that plan.
For her main birthday present, Merkin hauled a giant army surplus ammo can in from the garage. It’s a time capsule we assembled during her first few years of life and saved for today. We filled it with little souvenirs like the hospital ID bands from the day she was born and her “Special Delivery by Dr. Irion” t-shirt (the first item of clothing she ever wore), various magazines and newspapers showing the world as it was in November 1998, a package of twinkies (which was, thankfully, more petrified than moldy), a copy of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (once owned by her great-grandfather on Merkin’s mother’s side) that was over 100 years old when we first added it to the capsule, a notebook containing messages from various friends and relatives — including some of the kids in Merkin’s Sunday school class that year…all sorts of crazy treasures. Her first pair of “Doh-tee shoes”, the sparkling ruby slippers from her Halloween costume that she loved so much (and I’d accidentally made so big) that she wound up wearing it for years and wore through five different pairs of Doh-tee shoes before finally packing it away, was near the top. There was also a McDonald’s Happy Meal bag with various non-perishable items from that particular lunch visit: placemat, napkin, fry bag, chicken nugget box, coffee stirrer with the restaurant’s logo on one end (We don’t drink coffee, but BB liked tiny things)…the toy was still in its original packaging. She wasn’t particularly interested in owning a plastic figure of Nickelodeon’s Doug when it was new, so I kept it in the bag with the paper products and the tiny pepper packets that BB seemed to find oddly fascinating tonight as she pointed out that each one had two, tiny separate compartments of the spice.
She took a couple of items from the time capsule with her to the Young Women’s meeting tonight, including a special edition of Teen People devoted to Prince William. She found it hilarious, and I’m sure all of the other girls will have a good laugh over it, too.
18 years ago, a newborn baby girl napped in the arms of whichever volunteer grandma won the arm wrestling competition in the maternity ward nursery that evening while her two new parents sat exhausted and shell-shocked and wondered what they had gotten themselves into. Now that baby girl is officially an adult with ideas and opinions and a basic plan for her immediate future and no idea what she’ll be doing in the long term. I imagine she might find herself lying in bed tonight and wondering what she’s gotten herself into agreeing to come down to this earth and live a whole life filled with choices and obstacles and all kinds of wonders she can’t even begin to anticipate. Or — and this is much more likely — she’ll eat an extra slice of chocolate pie (her birthday cake of choice this year), take a nice hot shower, and pick out one of her new anime t-shirts from Hot Topic for tomorrow’s wardrobe before wading through her disaster of a bedroom and climbing into bed to sleep the sleep of the unemployed and still dependent. Growing up can wait until at least the end of high school, right?