When our paths last crossed you were hard at work producing hideously ugly drawings that every mother finds beautiful. Now you have exchanged your ballerina dreams, your frilly socks, and your little girl dresses for the teenage uniform of sullen rebellion in blue jeans. I know full well what has transpired in all these years, know full well why you now walk ramrod straight, full of purpose, scornfully mocking the world, know why you do not acknowledge me as I try to reconcile the way you were then with the way you are now. I see it and my heart breaks. Once I was like you, child.
Once I was at war with the world, too, and for many of the same reasons.
I see you now as you will be for quite some time to come. The spitting image of your mother, or should I say, one of your mothers. Child, you have changed. Back then, you bashfully smiled, swaying to a rhythm inside your head, your every step a prance. I recognize fully that I knew you in a prior incarnation and granted, we were both much younger then. Now I find my hair thinning and know that thirty is no longer an abstraction. Before you had the cheerful grace of childhood and now I see you have tasted the reality of adulthood, its disquieting uncertainty, its acidic bite, its regrettable consequences, and I notice how it has molded you. Two seconds glance was enough to bridge the gap of four years' absence.
I see you in a series of progressively evolving yearbook pictures. You will return to these when you are my age, remembering only the good times, glossing over the bad times with a kind of romanticized, deliberate distortion we call nostalgia. I saw the template of who you are, what you have become, and what you shall be with the passage of years. I fear your worst time are yet to come. I see a wild-eyed, wild-haired, wild child testing boundaries. I see your name being mentioned by other children in your teenage years, alluding to you as one of those freaks who sits at the back table. I see drugs and bad boyfriends and worse friends.
You will not understand what I am saying now, child. You will not understand until you are my age, until you look back upon the world with different eyes. You will not understand until you look upon past trials and tribulations without priding yourself upon your own mad courage. You may reach that point and you may not. Some realize it sooner than others and my prayer is that you will reach it long before most other do.