LESLIE CRISS: Bailey’s growing up proves hard on mom, aunt

By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal

“We’ve had bad luck with children; they’ve all grown up.”
– Christopher Morley

“If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up! Not me!”
– J.M. Barrie

“I think she is growing up, and so begins to dream dreams, and have hopes and fears and fidgets, without knowing why or being able to explain them.”
– Louisa May Alcott

Early last Thursday morning, my sister Beth called from Huntsville, Ala. She seemed to be sniffling slightly.
“I just dropped your niece off for her very last day at Mountain Gap Middle School,” she said. “And I am feeling some sadness.”
I suddenly felt the same.
It seems only yesterday Bailey Elizabeth Cook was having fun building tall towers with blocks in preschool.
It seems only months ago she was 7 and we were spending a week in New York City together.
Time has whizzed by at a pace that is both incredible and a bit frightening.
For the past nine years – since kindergarten – Bailey has been a part of Mountain Gap Elementary and Middle schools, which are connected, on the same campus.
When this summer ends, my niece will begin her freshman year as one of about 2,000 students at Virgil I. Grissom High School.
On Nov. 6, she’ll celebrate her 15th birthday. That means a permit to drive will not be far behind.
Don’t get me wrong. I have full faith in that niece of mine. I know she will do well behind the wheel of a vehicle, in the halls of Grissom High School and beyond.
It’s her mother I worry about. And her Aunt Lee Lee.
I’m just not sure we are ready for all this growing up stuff.
I asked my sister Thursday if Bailey was downcast about this end of an era.
“I think she is sad,” she said. “She told me if she was a little late getting out to the van after school it would be because she planned to walk through the elementary school and hug every one of her teachers who’ve been such a part of her life.”
After Beth told me that, I was the one stifling sniffles.
I spoke with the brand new high school freshman shortly after her final day of eighth grade.
“How was your day?” I asked her.
“It was extremely awesome, but also depressing,” she said.
From the tales she told, the day sounded mostly like a fun day rather than a final day of middle school education. Perhaps that’s as it should be.
There was an awards program.
“Did you get any awards?”
“A/B honor roll, as always,” my niece said with not much modesty.
“Did you cry when the school day was over,” I asked.
She hesitated a moment before answering.
“I cried a little bit,” she said. “I tried so hard not to.”
I asked, perhaps a little prematurely, if she was excited about being a ninth-grader and heading for high school.
“Not really,” she said. “It feels like tomorrow I’m just going to get up and go to class at Mountain Gap Middle School.”
“Change is good,” I told her.
“Who says?” Bailey asked.
It was a good question for an up and coming high school freshman.
leslie.criss@journalinc.com