Today my nephew started in a new position in the banking field. This comes after a successful run in a stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Although he will no doubt do well in his new position, this is only temporary because in a few short months he will move on to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot. Did I mention that my nephew is only 18 years old? Yes I said it...18. In fact he is exactly the same age I was when he made his entrance into this world.
What were you doing when you were 18? Yes I know some of you have always been purpose-driven over-achievers, but I just joined that club in my late twenties. When I was 18, the only things I was worried about were my boyfriend, getting my drivers license (with no car), what my boyfriend would be doing once I left for college, hanging with my friends, leaving for college so I could finally do what I wanted, breaking up with my boyfriend, finding ways to have enough of the things I liked to eat once I got to college, and finding a new boyfriend in college. I'm sure I missed a few things, but you get the gist.
My nephew Jonathan on the other hand is not at all like his auntie. Driven from the womb, Jonathan already has a laundry list of impressive credentials- the first African-American president of his school's best in state repertory theatre company, debate team, ROTC, a full schedule of honors classes, and all while holding down a job during his senior year (not to mention the girlfriends he's not telling us about). Somehow he even managed to charm his way into a sweet internship this summer with a well known banking institution in Maryland. He lives in Florida! This is not to say that Jon is perfect, but compared to me at 18...he's pretty darn close.
A few days ago my sister and I probably spent an hour on the phone talking about the fact that her kids turned out to be pretty great people and citizens of the world. My niece Candise, (who was a little more like her aunt with that whole boyfriend thing) is a budding graphic designer and entrepreneur with a beautiful family. Not only is she a great mom to her two kids, but she has thoughtfully and creatively branded her endearing stories of mommyhood, mayhem, and her Mister as Domestic Chic.
When your big sis turns out children like that, it makes it kind of difficult to be a slacker. By the time they each were 5, they were so precocious that we all had a feeling they were going to be somebodies. I know that in the early 90's every black mother thought her daughter looked like Raven Symone from the Cosby Show, but Candise really did look like Raven Symone...really. Thank goodness my game was on point academically (even if I sometimes lacked good sense) so that when the time came I could appropriately lecture them on the merits of getting good grades. I like to look at that (and teaching Jon to stick his tongue out as a baby) as my small contribution, even if they didn't pay my words any attention. As they get older and I watch them spread their wings more and more, they are continually teaching me. Their accomplishments also remind me that they too are watching me and I want to always make sure that when they look at me, they always see me flying high.