Kids. They grow up so fast don’t they?
I can remember my niece as a tiny little thing. Toothy smile, long hair covered in balls and barrettes and things, a love for all things Barbie and an appreciation for dance. She grew up fast before my eyes and changed from a shy but happy young child with a bed covered in Build-A-Bears, to a quiet (when with family of course) young adult with a penchant for texting like crazy. Hell, during a family gathering, if you’re not looking, she’ll slip on her headphones and act like nobody else is around. Yep, she grew up fast all right.
But I didn’t really realize all of that until I started following her on Instagram. While Facebook has always been more about statuses and a few pictures here and there, same for Twitter, Instagram is all about photos, and the more photos she puts up, the more I want to pick up my phone, call my brother (her father) and say, “Uh, come get your child!” I’ve found on my homepage images of her in a towel straight out the shower, sports bra and tights shots, booty in the camera and hip all out to the side photos. Though 18 (she JUST turned 18), she’s been acting way too grown for me.
And if the half-dressed pictures weren’t enough, there are times when I can tell she’s doing the most to receive compliments from her followers. Male, female–whoever. She’ll post a picture with a crazy face and say that she knows she doesn’t look cute in it, but she wanted to take the photo anyway. In response, all of her young (and hell, who knows with Instagram. People can be 40-year-old trolls following you and you wouldn’t even know it) followers comment back saying she looks more than cute, that she’s fine, and so on and so forth (*shudders the thought*). And it was okay the first couple of times, but seeing as she posts about five photos a day in front of any mirror she can find (duck face included), it’s become a tad bit annoying. As quiet as she comes off face to face, she gets her Sasha Fierce on with her phone, talking crazy and reciting rap lyrics to her 500+ followers online. After weeks of watching all these shenanigans, I think I’m ready to help her bring that follower count down a bit.
But as sassy as she can be to my discomfort, in all honesty, she’s a more modern version of myself some years back when I let Facebook get the best of me as an 18-year-old. To this day, I can scroll through old photo albums of mine from freshman year of college to now and sometimes I have to shake my head at what I see. Not only was I being sassy like my niece (oh, but you would never catch me in my sports bra or in a towel trying to be seen), duck-lipping it up, throwing my hip out there, and showing off my curves in a swimsuit, but I was also cursing like a sailor while joking with friends about these pictures. I was young and silly, acting a fool and loving it. But years later I cringe at my clothes, my poses, my once proud expletives and my behavior as a whole. And honestly, when I think about my own juvenile behavior in the past, I can’t help but give my niece a pass. She’s doing the same over-the-top (but maybe to an extreme) stuff I was trying my hand at when Facebook ruled the world and Twitter was just starting to make waves.
While I might have to pull her to the side and let her know a few things, I can’t fault her for doing the same things damn near everybody was doing back in the day when they got their hands on camera phones and cameras with decent megapixels. Plus, her grades are high, her dreams are big and she hasn’t done anything yet to make me feel like I have to be worried about her doing more than spending too much on Jordans and catching a speeding ticket. It’s about maturity. She’s young, she’ll learn. And she’ll grow and do better–I hope. So I’ll deal with the questionable if not obnoxious photos for now. I just can’t help but long for the days of the little girl in the white princess dress with her Barbies as she continues to grow into a saucy young lady with a passion for mirror shots.