Tuesday, November 12, 2013

this girl

Photography by Tim Burkhalter

This girl.
This girl with the name I didn’t like, because right or wrong , teachers make decisions about names and those names carry a stereotype that may take a lifetime to undo. 


I argued with Christi about names when she was pregnant .
I told her that little girls named Ashlynn were bratty, self-righteous, and difficult to manage.  I’d taught three or four Ashlynns over the years and each one was a little pistol. 

I quickly learned that I had no say in the matter—she and Ryan were going to choose their new daughter’s name, and I’d best hush.  My opinion was not valid.  

They were absolutely right.

As it turns out, our Ashlynn has given me a completely new experience.  For the past eight years, I have had the privilege of being her grandma, and I would not trade that for any Claire, Kimberly, or Gabriella.  Ashlynn is perfectly content to be who she is, and how I have come to love that little girl.

She was an easy infant—never one to fuss or draw attention to herself.  We made several trips up to Omaha to see her after she was born.  Each visit was too brief…she was growing up so fast.

She has what can only be called “baby blues” and they work their magic on a pretty regular basis. 

She has a heart for others—when she was in kindergarten there were some students with special needs in her class, and she became the perfect helper and friend.  She reminds me a lot of her mom in that regard.

You don’t have to ask her twice to do something helpful.  She’ll give up her seat, her coat, her book, her game, her turn…she’s just made that way.  She’s a compassionate little girl—don’t tell her a sad story or you’ll have her in tears. 

She’s got a great memory…I usually make up bedtime stories for her, and I pretty much forget the plot once the story’s been told.  Not Ashlynn…she’ll remind me of all the details.  I’ve come up with quite a few versions of The Elves and the Shoemaker; some are quite goofy and those are her favorites.

She’s developed a funny little home business—she offers spa treatments for tired and weary travelers, and has a little kit of lotions, scrubs, and files at the ready.  Her rates are very reasonable. Though I’ve tried offering kisses instead of dollar bills, it rarely works that way.

I took her to get her own little spa treatment—a pedicure at a local salon.  The proprietor fixed her a little Shirley Temple and gave her the royal treatment.  She smiled from start to finish.  

She has a special place in her heart for her new cousin, Canyon.  Watching her with this little one, I am filled with pride.  She'll be such a good mother someday.  

We celebrated her birthday on Saturday.  Eight years old.  She wanted a fifties’ party  and she wanted to get it right.  She asked me what I wore in 1855.  Once I steered her to the correct century, she was nevertheless disappointed at my answer:  “Diapers!”

Christi found a pair of skintight black leggings, along with a Pink Ladies jacket, and Michelle fixed Ashlynn’s hair in a fancy “beehive” hairdo.  Along with twenty of her closest friends, Ashlynn hula-hooped her way through the afternoon.  It was a joy to watch her hug each of her friends, as they raced all over the park in their poodle skirts. 

This girl.  This Ashlynn.
She has erased all other versions of the name.
This girl has captured my heart for always. 

Photography by Tim Burkhalter

She’s the one and only Ashlynn.