A Dream for Taylor

by Cindi on June 25, 2017

The first time I wrote a tribute to my granddaughter Taylor, she was four months old. It was a poem that was later published online, on a site called “momwriterslitmag,” and although it was written eleven years ago, I still know that little baby Taylor like it was yesterday:

To Taylor, From Nana

I was there
the first time
you saw a balloon.

I watched your eyes,
blinking wide with wonder,
and your little feet
kicking and punching
the excited air around you.

I was thinking
about ee cummings
who wrote,
“who knows if the moon’s a balloon?”
and thought about one day 
when I will show the moon 
to you
while singing
I see the moon and the moon sees me

which made me think
of my own little baby girl
many years ago
who would laugh a little toddler laugh
and squeal
“sing moon, mommy! sing moon!”

and I would sing moon.

one day we will all be sitting around
telling you
“I was there when you were born”
and “I heard your first cry”
and “I walked the floor
that first week
when you wouldn’t sleep.”

And I will be the one smiling…
remembering you at four months old…
and I will think:
I was there
the first time
you saw a balloon.

Taylor’s first balloon experience was with a deflating Teacher Appreciation Week gift.

Since that time, I’ve watched Taylor “graduate” from pre-school and then kindergarten, ticking those elementary years off her schooling list one by one, clicking picture after picture to document her journey.

Waiting in line for the kindergarten graduation ceremony

This week Taylor will graduate from elementary school. Her fifth grade year will be over, and she’ll be headed to a place that I’ve called home for most of my career – a middle school. Now I’ll really know what her world will be like; I’ve watched students struggle with all that pre-teen/teen angst for 30 years. Because of those years, I know what to say to Taylor, and I know what my dream is for her as she enters those tormenting, magical middle school years.

First and foremost, Taylor, be who you are. There will be voices in your ears that are louder than your parents (and grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins).

Know this: girls can be mean (they didn’t make that movie for nothing…) They may try to pressure you to dress and act a certain way, and they may seem so cool that you think you have to do what they do. You don’t. When you find the friend who doesn’t try to change you, that’s your real friend. Hang with the people who let you be you.

Boys – and girls – can be bullies. Some middle school kids may not be able to use a subject pronoun correctly, but they can sure figure out ways to reduce their classmates to tears with just a word or a look. But you’ve got this one.

Remember when you were in first grade and you were the “new girl” in a new school? That kid teased you about your glasses until you learned to ignore him with one word: “Whatever.” Whenever he would start his antics, you would say, “Whatever” and walk away. You were even a guest speaker in my middle school that year, teaching sixth graders about the power of “whatever.” My principal wrote that word on the white board in his office soon after:



Your true friends will be just that – true friends. The others don’t deserve your time and don’t need to take up, as I call it, space in your head. Hold tightly to the good ones, and “whatever” the others.

Next, I want you to really live your middle school life. I’ve seen sixth graders come in a little shaky, but leave as eighth graders who know who they are and who are beginning to know who they want to be. I think these three years will be the most important, when it comes to growing up, in all of your schooling.

For that reason, I have a huge request: see the world around you.

On your first birthday, you could walk…but you didn’t. You sat on the floor, thumb in mouth, and watched everyone. You have always been one of the most observant children I’ve ever known. Last weekend, you walked into my house and said, “You have a new faucet.” What 11-year-old notices that?

Keep noticing, Taylor. Remove your face from whatever device is in your hand and notice things. See what you can see; smell what you can smell. Be that 1-year-old who didn’t miss a thing. Don’t miss the ocean and the honeysuckles and the hugs and the dog kisses because you’re in a device trance like so many kids these days. Embrace your middle schoolness and do everything – go to the school dance, play on a team, work on the yearbook…do it all. Try everything – play an instrument, learn a language, run in the grass…laugh in the middle school hallway!

Don’t get all of your joy from an app. Live instead.

Make an impression. While I don’t want you to worry about impressing your peers, I do want you to impress your teachers and your parents…with your work ethic, your respectfulness, and your sweet (not teenager grumpy!) disposition. Also, you need to be sure you’re impressing yourself; be sure you always know that you’re doing your best…that you’re being the best student, daughter, sister, and friend you can be. We want the principal to know your name…but only for good reasons.

Remember where you came from. As you get older and make decisions, turn to your family for advice and answers. We’ve all been there, and we may just know a little bit. I’ve seen too many middle schoolers turn to their peers for answers. Seriously, do you really think a 12-year-old has enough experience in life to steer you in the right direction? Ask your family!

If you’re in trouble, call. If you’re scared, scream. We will be there immediately…no questions asked. Okay, well, we may ask a few questions…but when you need us, we’ll be there.

And if you think there’s no way your Nana could be cool enough to know anything about a teenager, just remember:

I was there…the first time you saw a balloon.

Welcome to middle school, Taylor.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Kim Bauer June 26, 2017 at 12:41 pm

What a wonder you are. A wonderful writer, teacher, Nana, person. God bless Taylor.


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