I first met Sarah (pictured above) when she was almost 6 and a half. Today, she’s 13. (The picture above is not her at 13.) If I did the math correctly, I’ve known her for about half of her life. And if you consider the fact that for the first couple years she didn’t even know the proper use and operation of a toilet, I think I got the better part of the deal. (Because really, what normal 4 month old isn’t properly toilet-trained?)
I probably have Sarah to thank for me eventually marrying Rhiannon, for if Sarah hadn’t approved of me, things wouldn’t have worked out. As it was, I’d like to think that I’ve been a good influence on her over the years.
When she was younger, I would pick her up and hold her near the ceiling fan in the kitchen, and she would scream and laugh and I would put her down. And it was fun. And if I claim no responsibility for any psychiatrist bill to cure a deep and unnatural fear of ceiling fans that may surface later in life.
I also taught her to draw a star – the one-motion-with-a-pentagon-in-the-center kind – because, obviously, that is a life skill no one should be without. I think I’d rank star drawing just slightly below toilet training. Given the choice, I’ll teach someone to draw a star any day of the week.
Of course, she got in the way, like any good little sister should. Rhiannon would watch TV with Sarah sitting on the couch in between us. One afternoon we were on break and Rhiannon was packing to go back to college. Sarah and I were helping. By helping, I mean I took a nap on Rhiannon’s bed and with Sarah napping on my chest while Rhiannon packed. But we dreamed of packing. We dreamed hard.
Later, Rhiannon accused Sarah of trying to steal her boyfriend and warned her to keep her hands off, and as a heartrending look of sadness passed across an 8 year-old Sarah’s face she ran to give me a hug and yelled, “I can touch him!”
Now, she’s tall and smart and when I pick her up, her feet come 4 inches off the ground and I’d need to work a little bit to get her anywhere near the fan. And if I could offer one piece of advice - don’t worry about those grades so much. Just draw your own star on the top of paper. That means 100% regardless of the answers.
Happy 13th Birthday Sarah. Watch out for those ceiling fans.