Back when I was in college, lo those many years ago, I worked in a great preschool as an assistant teacher for a couple of years. When I graduated from Macalester I taught my own toddler class there until Matt and I left for Boston in 1995. I used to babysit for some of the kids from the preschool on the side, and always enjoyed it.
One particular child was always a favorite of mine, from the time she was 3 years old. Her name was Libby and I used to have a great time with her - going for a walk around the block with her dressed up like a witch, making her laugh so hard she peed on the couch (whoops!). She used to sit on my lap out on the playground at the end of the day when she was at school, waiting for her mom to pick her up. I remember these things like they were yesterday.
I've had the good fortune of staying in touch with Libby and her mom over the years and even seeing them from time to time. I saw them just last year in San Francisco before I moved to Chicago. And yet I was shocked to receive an email from them two weeks ago, asking if Libby could stay with me when she comes out to visit Northwestern University, to which she has been accepted.
I told this story to my friend Cara today and Cara happily remembered her aunt, a woman in her 30s who lived near Macalester and was there to host holidays, have her over to dinner, and offer her a place to do free laundry, all the things I'd love to do for Libby, should she end up at Northwestern. Cara remembered that this aunt had small children at the time, children who are now going to college themselves.
She looked at me suddenly and said in shock, "I thought she seemed so -- old."