Thursday, August 18, 2011

When did this happen?!

It's amazing how it happens.  Almost over night.

Blink, and you'll miss it.

This is how I remember them.  Chubby cheeks, high-pitched voices (except for Josie...!), and kisses on the cheek.

Seriously, when did this change?

No longer interested in dolls & dress up - unless 'dress up' involves a trip to the mall.

No more reading books on my lap, because they've got more important things to do - like spend time with girlfriends.

I know - we grew up, too.  But this is crazy.  Just crazy.

As one aunt put it  - all of the kids are at a reproductive age.  Didn't want to think of it that way....but okay.  :)

I'm the oldest cousin in my family - I was 12 when the next cousin, Jacob, was born.

Well this stinks, I used to think.  Everyone else gets cousins their own age.  Playmates.  Pals.

Not me.  I've just got a bunch of kids for cousins.

Boy was I wrong.  What a treat to watch these kids grow into 'real people'.

Drivers license's, girlfriends (no boyfriends yet - I don't think...!), cell phones...unreal.

I feel like Jake & I have a unique relationship with these kids.  We love them like crazy.  I feel like we're close - but I wish we were closer.  And now that they're older, it just seems 'too late'.  I wish I could have done more - been there more - spent more time just being together.  Not because of a birthday or holiday, but just because spending time together is special.

And as much as we feel as though we've dropped the ball...we also know that we've loved these kids so much.

And now they're in the same place we were.  Much older cousins (okay, second cousins) to a much younger cousin.  And we wonder - what if they just don't 'get' Carter?  What if the bond isn't there like it was for us, because they don't understand his Down syndrome?

Until I had a conversation with one of these guys.  After spending the week on a missions trip, working with kids with special needs, he said "Those kids changed my life - it makes me 10x more excited to get Carter home!!".

Okay.  So he gets it.  Completely.  And I have total faith that the others will get it too, once they meet our sweet boy.



He doesn't know it - but this boy has my heart.

He took it when I first met him as a newborn, and I just haven't taken it back.  He still greets me with hugs, and just a few weeks ago when he left my house - a kiss on the cheek.  He sits on my lap.  He puts his arm around me.  And it makes me feel like we've got something special.  I'm not fooling myself - I know he's this way with everyone.  But a girl can dream, right?!

When I first got my drivers license, I took him to a local drive-in restaurant, Ardy & Ed's.  Root beer is their specialty, and I knew this 4 year old guy would love to sit in the car and drink an ice cold root beer.  One thing led to another, and it turned into a lesson (from me) in burping.  One of my finer moments?  Maybe not.  But a special memory for me, nonetheless.

This guy got his license a few months ago.  He texted me with the exciting news...and said "when I'm around...I'll take you to Ardy & Ed's for a root beer.".   My heart melted.   He remembers.

What a guy.

A lesson learned for us....not to waste a single minute building memories.  Every day is an opportunity.  Every moment is a chance to love.

Wish I would have chosen to love on all of these kids more.  The opportunities are almost gone.  What I wouldn't give for a few more opportunities.

Then I think...what if they forget about me?  What if they move on with their lives, and I'm just that cousin that used to do fun things with them?  I don't really want to think about that.

Because really - truly - we love these kids with a ridiculous, crazy, unreal kind of love.
Wishing we would have shown it more.

One Thing I Know For Sure:  It's never too late, I guess....

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