I'm five years old and it's the age of three little girls made with sugar, spice, and everything nice with a little dose of Chemical X, cowardly dogs, and talking cows and chickens. I tell you all about my adventures with them in Dexter's lab using made up words that don't really make sense, yet you look at me filled with genuine curiosity, listening intently at the wide-eyed girl with an out of this world imagination. She made me believe in the spirit of Santa Claus with gifts and letters straight from North Pole. She's just as imaginative as the little kid in the tiny, red Hello Kitty raincoat—I want to be just like her when I grow up.
I'm seven years old and I get my leg stuck in a swing on the first day of first grade. I can't walk and the doctor tells me that I have to get my leg wrapped up in a cast for a few months. All my friends run straight of the classroom during recess and lunch for a quick game of hopskotch, but you—you stay with me from 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM—making sure that I'm never lonely when the bell rings and the classroom lights dim. She's loving and caring—I want to be just like her when I grow up.
I'm twelve years old and feel like I know everything there is to know about the world. I say no all the time, refuse to listen to anything that you say, and lash out every time things go awry. You get mad, but mostly sad. But you don't fight back. You always listen, and you never ever lash out on me. She's patient, but more importantly forgiving—I want to be just like her when I grow up.
I'm sixteen years old and have never felt this lonely in my whole life. I'm uncertain about the future and for the first time in my life, I don't know what to do. All I know is I don't want to go home and celebrate my sixteenth birthday without him. But I walk in to a fluffy Japanese cheesecake on the table and you sing "Happy Birthday" with the biggest and bravest smile on your face when I know deep inside you're breaking. She's the strongest woman I've ever known—I want to be just like her when I grow up.
I'm eighteen years old and everyone's worried that I'm going to go all-out crazy in college with booze and wild nights out. You told me "I trust you" and I went ahead and went all-out crazy on my eighteenth birthday anyway. You look sad—disappointed even—when I get home still dizzy because of the twelve shots. But you talk to me like I'm nowhere near woozy with zero anger and judgment. I don't know how she does it, but she's understanding—I want to be just like her when I grow up.
I'm twenty-two now and finding my place in the world. I don't tell you stories about the old man with a long beard in the red suit nor do I hang out in Bikini Bottom anymore. Instead, I spend most of my time out and about in the streets of Manila while you hang out in front of the black laptop that never endingly blasts Coldplay and Taylor Swift songs. We may not see eye to eye all the time and we may fight like cats and dogs every other day, but your Facebook page says it all. Along with the teddy bear videos you never get tired of sharing are photos of not-so distant memories and current works of your Janelle. She's crazy, but cool—I want to be just like her when I grow up.