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  • Writer's pictureJenny Penland

Growing Pains ‣ She's my litmus for all others.

“You’ll outgrow my lap, but never my heart.” I remember reciting that line to you when I could only imagine the sentiment. A few years and growth spurts later, and now, I’m living the words... We’re stacked up and spilling over the rattan edge. Your long legs are draped over mine; the soles of your shoes, skimming the ground each time we teeter forward. I close my eyes and try to memorize the patterned "squeak-creak, squeak-creak," as our chair rocks back and forth atop uneven wood planks. I sigh to myself.

It won’t be long, now...

The day’s last bit of sun warms my face, as the night’s first breeze meets it, and nuzzles you into my chest. No, it won't be long at all. She's gaining on me in body, mind, and spirit. Sometimes, it’s a battle. Hell. Sometimes, it’s an all-out war of wills. I question (*audibly, **cursing the heavens) Why and how and WHY is she so headstrong? ...Then I take a step back and remind myself who’s raised her.

She’s my mirror, my warrior, my “helmeted chief.” She fights for what is good (most of the time) and I’m careful not to snuff the fire out of her, even if it means I get burned every now and then.

Cause the thing is, she gets it. Me. Herself. Everything. She pays attention and takes the time to really learn people. She sees you, accepts you, and quietly meets you where you are. It’s a rare trait to find in someone - much less in an eleven year old...

But I guess that’s what happens when a photographic memory has seen as much as she has.

I have to (frequently) remind myself that it’s not always going to be sunshine and rainbows. Nothing real ever is. She’s a fierce protector. She plays her cards close to her chest, and when her guard’s up, she’s Fort Knox, walking. But if you disarm her, if she lets you in... she’s the cool breeze on a summer day. She’s unyielding love in pure form.

She’s my litmus for all others.


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