What in the normal?

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The Lord did not bless me with children of my own, but I am real quick to steal them from my friends.

I play favorites. There is, in fact, such a thing as an ugly baby, people. And by the way, your kid is probably not a genius or a beauty queen at the age of 3, so the pageant moms need to settle down.

I like chunky kids and am very partial to those who wear glasses. I don’t need Dr. Phil to crack that case: It’s likely because I once was a chunky kid who wore glasses.

The only video that exists of me from my childhood is a basketball game when I was in maybe fourth grade. There’s a lot of VHS footage of me running in the wrong direction and pretending to be ready for a pass while silently praying no one would pass it to me.

Fortunately in 2017 we take photos and videos every day, and I get the privilege of FaceTiming with my nieces and nephews who live in Dallas. My 4-year-old nephew sings to me “J-A-C-O-B, Jacob is my name-o” and recites his Bible verses and tells me about his Pokemon friends.

The latest unique phrase to enter his vocabulary is, “What in the normal?” I’m not sure how he came up with that. I’m going to guess that my sister did not approve of him saying “what the heck” and he came up with an alternate version. Sure, it makes no sense, but we’ve all kind of taken to it and I even said it at work the other day. I forget that not everyone speaks Jakey language.

One day I called him and asked, “What did you do today?” His answer was that he pooped in his neighbor’s driveway.

I had questions. A lot of questions. Were there witnesses? Did he do it to be funny or did he not understand that once you’re diaper-free, you can’t just do that at any given moment? Did he clean it up? Did his mom make him go over and apologize? Unfortunately I was unable to get to the bottom of this scenario because he was promptly reprimanded and I can only assume that he was advised that it’s not cute to discuss such matters, even with Aunt April, who thinks everything he does is adorable.

I finally realized what people mean when they say that they want to freeze time or that the kids are growing up too fast. My nieces are teenagers now, and they’re lovely, interesting people, but they’re a little less silly than they were as toddlers, and they have actual important things to worry about now, like boys and friends and homework and their weird aunt who stalks them on Instagram.

Meanwhile, 4-year-old Jacob is almost always in a good mood. He loves pimento cheese sandwiches and singing “I’m Still Standing,” while simulating playing the piano. Because that’s what the jailhouse gorilla does in the movie “Sing.” You can’t make this stuff up.

He has so much personality and sweetness and innocence, and I don’t ever want that to go away. I hope that during this holiday season we will be reminded to cherish the children in our lives. They need good role models and they need to see us showing love and laughter to one another.

Being a parent is challenging, and if you’re not up for that challenge, you’re doing a real disservice to your kids.

As children, we are influenced by our friends and relatives. We make decisions that shape who we’re going to be as adults. We decide what sports teams we like based on what our parents watch. We choose hobbies based on family vacations and activities we learn from our parents and peers. We emulate our older siblings and, to some degree, our parents.

Let’s not forget that these kids we love so much are watching our words and actions.

April Towery is the managing editor of The Sealy News. She can be reached at 979-885-3562 or editor@sealynew.com.

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