I watched you pull out of the driveway last week with your friends. In YOUR car. This past weekend you went to visit a friend at school. In Iowa. By yourself. Last night we looked at your dress for Senior Homecoming. I don't know when it happened, but somewhere along the way I blinked. I blinked and you grew up.
You and me, kid? We're bookends. I started this crazy group of siblings and you finished it. I don't think Mom and Dad expected to repeat my teenage years with you, but they are. You are me. From your stubbornness to your scowl. From your laugh to your sneeze. You're me. That's why I knew what to do when you got lost driving home yesterday. That's why we fight so much. It's also why I'm so ridiculously protective and tough on you. It's also why I love you so very much. So with the forewarning of me probably embarrassing you, here's some unsolicited advice from your older sister.
Slow Down, Sweet Girl.
Slow down. With everything. If there is only one piece of advice I ever give you, it's this. Slow down, sweet girl.
Last night you told me exactly how many days of school you have left this year. You're so excited to be done. I remember. I know to you 30 seems a lifetime away, but I remember my senior year like it was yesterday. I walked the same halls as you. I parked in the same parking lot. I said hello to the same teachers and sat in the same desks. I remember. But this year, oh Rosie this year's going to go by so fast. First it's Homecoming and college applications, then it's winter break and acceptance letters, and before you know it prom is over and you're walking across the stage to get your diploma.
Please slow down. Not for my sake, not because I don't want you to grow up (even though I don't), but because you're going to miss it all. You're going to miss Helen's grin when she thinks something's hysterical. You're going to miss Carly being ridiculous and carefree as she walks down the hall. You're going to miss Nikki being her insane self and you're going to miss Sydney being the adorable gazelle of a girl that she is. Slow down and watch these things.
Put down your phone, Put it away. Listen to your friends talk. Ask them real questions. Stop gossiping and let the drama of the past go. Talk to each other. This little tribe of yours isn't going to be together next year and you need to make every single second so precious. Snapchat will be there when your sleepovers end. Talk to your friends.
Take a zillion pictures. On a real camera. Not an iPhone. A camera. Not hand on your hip, leg pushed out, head to the side photos. Real photos. Capture the moments where no one is paying attention. Capture the silly. Capture the smiles. And when you don't have a camera, make it a point to remember those times that things feel just right...because those minutes of perfection only get harder to come by, and seconds slip by so much faster as you get older.
Support your pals. Go to the games and the plays and the meets. Let them know you love them. Be the absolute best friend you can.
Drinking. I won't tell you not to drink. We've had that conversation. I will always ask you if you did drink. And I will always ask more than once before I believe you. If you do choose to drink, choose trusted friends. Know that Mom and Dad will be pissed. Know that if you drink then you are choosing to accept the consequences that may come with it. Know that I will be disappointed in you, tell me anyways. And know that you always call me first if anything happens. Always.
Drugs. There's just no need. Same goes with cigarettes. Just don't.
Sex. Oh, Allison Rose. We've talked about this a lot. I've always been honest with you. I've told you how it can be awkward and uncomfortable and nothing like the movies. You've seen friends be wrecked by it. I want you to wait. But I also want you to be 6 again. So just remember this. You can't ever take it back. The people you sleep with become a part of you. You have to look back and remember, and I want you to only have good memories. So when you make that choice, be in love. Ridiculously in love. Call me. I won't stop you, but I'll talk it through with you. Always.
Falling in love. I'm so scared for the day you fall in love. Not because I don't want you to, because I do, but because I'm so scared for you to get your heart broken. And you will get your heart broken. I know you're afraid of that, too. It'll seem like the end of everything. You'll want to die. And it'll be the boy you least expected. But Rosie, fall in love anyways. Even if he doesn't love you back, even if he's not what you ever thought, even if you're terrified...fall in love, anyways.
Spend lots of time with Mom and Dad. I know they're hard on you. I know they make you so mad. I know there's times where you hate them, and sometimes it's justified. But go with Dad after Thanksgiving dinner to look at the Black Friday lines. Grocery shop with Mom. Be home for dinner. Dad's so scared of you growing up and Mom is so tired from raising the 6 of us, try to take it easy on them. They know the mistakes they've made. Forgive them, even when they don't say sorry.
*SPOILER ALERT: When you're my age, you'll realize they were almost always right, so try to learn lessons from what they're teaching you now. Trust me on this.*
Allie, I know you're ready to leave. I know you haven't had it that easy. I know you're tough and think you can do this all on your own. After all, you're me. But you've already seen my mistakes, so learn from them. Do better for yourself. And remember this:
You only get one shot at a first time. No matter what that first time is, you only get one chance to get it right. Your homework will never be this easy again, so don't complain too much. Stop comparing yourself to your friends. You may be jealous, but so are they. Laugh a lot, Allie Rose. Work hard this year. At school, at work, with your friends, at being happy. Work hard. Play even harder. Make as many memories with your family as you do with your friends. Tell the boy how you feel. Believe that you're beautiful. Push past fear. I promise you, you won't regret it.
And one more thing...remember when you dropped me off at WIU? You were 5 and you made me come outside to hug you one more time? You may be 17 now, but you'll always be my bookend, and my best friend, my baby sister. And I will ALWAYS come back one more time. No matter what.
Slow down, sweet girl. You have plenty of time.
PS, you can totally enter your email address below to get an email from me EVERY TIME I write a new post! I promise I won't send you any spam/weirdo fetish stuff! (No judgment, yo!)
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