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Oh, to be turning 18 again

Published: Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 3:49 p.m. CDT

I think I’m feeling old and a little wistful as I write this on my youngest child’s 18th birthday.

Jessica Leigh McDaniel was born on a bitterly cold January evening at Kishwaukee Community Hospital in DeKalb. She went home a couple of days later in the middle of a snowstorm.

“If you want to go home today, I suggest you leave as soon as possible,” my doctor advised as the white stuff came down in buckets outside my window.

So, we bundled up our new treasure and headed home to her excited siblings. Katie was 8; Andrew was 6.

Being the third child had to be difficult. I can’t imagine how parents handle more. I suppose you do what you have to do.

Poor Jess got blamed for a lot of things because she was too little to really speak up for herself. She got blamed for leaving her room a mess when it was her older sister. She got blamed for taking things when it was her brother. And sometimes, we were just too worn out to really spend much time with her one-on-one.

That has changed in recent years. Older sister lives elsewhere with her two daughters; older brother is serving with the Army in Afghanistan.

So now, Jess is living the life of an only child.

What’s interesting is, once her siblings were out of the house, we discovered she has a voice and a great sense of humor and some very strong opinions.

I got a taste of the last when the new hospital in DeKalb was under construction.

“I see no reason we need a new hospital,” she informed me one day. “There’s nothing wrong with the old one.”

I was surprised she had such a strong opinion on something she had experienced only as a newborn. We did have a lively discussion, however. From that day on, I admit, I looked at her a little differently.

As a senior in high school, she already has earned her certified nurse’s assistant (CNA) certificate and is preparing to start a new job at a local nursing home. She did clinicals there through her class at Kishwaukee Education Consortium and really likes the facility, the staff and the residents. She plans to continue her education to become a nurse.

I don’t know how I could be any prouder of the incredible young woman she has become.

On a scale of one to awesome, Jessy is purple. We have no idea what that means exactly; we saw something on Facebook that said “On a scale of one to awesome, that was purple.”

I guess it means whatever we want it to mean.

We both thought it was funny. So, Jess and I say things are purple.

Happy 18th birthday, Jess – have a purple day.

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