by Cait

I became an aunt one year ago today. We welcomed Miss Laney into our lives last July, and, though I may be biased, the world got a little better.

Let me be honest, I love babies. Sure, they terrify me, but they’re still the best; and I truly believe that holding a little human can turn a bad day into a not so bad day.

For me, being an over-analyzer, children and babies always make me think about myself as a child, and how I went from being a curious explorer of the world to just a plain old contributor to society. My life is not exciting, but it’s not not exciting. It is what it is, and I’m waiting to see what will happen and change in the next few years.

However, children do not wait; they’re hardwired to go, go, go. Children have barely gotten past establishing object permanence when they begin walking and exploring the world. The patience that is considered a virtue in adults is not naturally present in most children.

But is impatience such a bad thing? Is a sense of urgency a vice?

I don’t want Laney to be a compulsive nut-case who curses all red lights and impulsively makes choices that leave her dependent on people (re: my brother & sister-in-law) to finance her (mis)adventures. I want her to be a good student and ambitious with her extra-curricular activities, but someone who still leaves time to pal around with her friends (and aunt, obviously). I want her to grow in her faith, but also to explore why other people believe what they believe and ask them questions. I want her to have thought-provoking conversations with teachers, friends, me, etc. that cause her to challenge her reality, and what she “knows” to be true.

Being part of a “discussion prone” family, means she’s going to witness people butting heads on issues that actually matter, as well as some that…don’t (think the stance of our country’s foreign policy vs. Star Wars movie quotes). I want her to know enough to not be swayed by the popular opinion.

Because here’s the thing.

If you don’t ask, you won’t know. Yes, some things will come at you enough times that eventually the information will seep into your cognitive awareness, but for the most part, learning is an active process, not passive. She needs to see other perspectives because her life is not going to be exactly like that of her friends and classmates. She’s going to meet people who feel strongly about something on which she’s always stood a certain way. Should she ignore this opposite point-of-view in favor of peace of mind?

I don’t think so.

She needs to take steps to educate herself and feel that sense of urgency that all children feel when they ask “Why?” over and over again. Eating a meal she’s not a fan of, easily put up with (for most people, myself not included). However, a classmate getting picked on at school? That situation requires words, actions. And while putting herself out there may make life a little harder at the outset, learning a bit about empathy never hurt anyone.

But most of all, I want her to be happy; that joyous frame of mind that eludes some of us on a regular basis, but creeps up in unexpected moments. I want her to know she shouldn’t take that feeling for granted, but neither should she find it unattainable and lacking in her life. She should remember the wonders of childhood and how little discoveries were the basis for the large imaginative pictures in her mind. She should understand that the world can be frightening, but that she will always have us, her family, to turn to when she needs to feel safe.

I can’t imagine a day going by without a prayer of thanks for my family. They’re the best. They also remind me to be self-aware on the days when “the world” seems to be against me, and to remember I’m never going at it alone.

I want Laney baby to remember that. Someday I will tell her, “We’re here, but you’ve also got you.”

And if we’ve all done our jobs right, that should be pretty good reassurance on its own.

Until next time or not, I’m still Cait.