Growing Ivy

My niece Ivy is one year old.

Let me try that again.

My niece Ivy is one year old.

It still doesn’t seem possible.

Oh, I know it’s not just possible. It’s inevitable. But it still seems strange. A year ago, she was this cute and wrinkly little being who had escaped her mother’s body in record time. Now she’s this cute and far less wrinkly little being with bright  hair, a bright smile and a crawling pace to match her little Ferrari shirt.

Ivy passed the milestone on Monday. Probably in fifth gear. And it looks even faster one time zone away, as I follow her progress through picture after picture from Kirkland, Wash. Nine months ago, I was dangling keys in front of her face to stop her from crying. At this rate, it may only be another nine before we’re hiding the keys to stop her from driving.


Why do we always say that?

Maybe because it makes us look at ourselves again. Most of us, I’ve noticed, have a magic age that we mentally locked onto long ago. For me, even though I know darn well I’m 38, my mind froze time somewhere around 25, when I got married. Anything that’s a reminder of being past that point comes as a minor shock.

Babies are a constant reminder.

They can’t help it. Every day it’s something new. Opening eyes, learning to stand, nearly pulling the drawer of a end table onto themselves. You have to watch every single second or you’ll miss something – probably something that will go straight off the carpet and into their mouths.

Ivy has become 365 times older than she was the first time I saw her picture. She’s four times older than when I first saw her face. There’s room for a lot of change there.

And it forces everyone – moms, dads, uncles, aunts and more – to notice the changes in themselves as well.

The good news is, for a lot of us, it comes with its own cure.

No, I’m not the dashing (ha) young man just out of graduate school and just into newspapers. Thirteen years has stolen hair, added inches, accumulated stories and stress. But to a young lady in Washington (and another one in Arvada, and a young man in Johnstown), I’m one of the most fascinating people in the world.

She’s not going to see the changes that sometimes bother me. Not for a long time to come. What she’s going to see are the friends and the family who love her very much and can’t wait for the next step.

And that, dear Ivy, will never change.

Happy birthday.