Just Like Her

Sometimes people are meant to come into your life and change it for the better.

When I was in sixth grade, I was assigned a "big sis" to write to from the all-girl's academy down the street.  I wrote a letter, and then Jane, who I chose from the list because Jane was (is!) one of my favorite names ever, surprisingly, wrote back.  We kept this up...she sent a picture once and I, little mousy shy 6th grader, was in awe at this incredibly beautiful older girl who actually cared enough to correspond with me.

I once, in pure desperation to be "just like her", bought a bottle of magic potion to grow really really long hair from the back of a teen magazine.  In months my scraggly dirty dishwasher hair turned into thick, shiny, long, dark brunette locks.  Oh, no it didn't.  All my hard earned money wasted, and a lesson learned.  But Jane taught me many other much more important lessons from our friendships...lessons I learned by the example of the way she conducted herself in life.  Here was the gorgeous, incredibly smart, and confident girl, but more important GOOD...good to the core, respectful to her parents, respectful of herself, kind to her friends...just really really GOOD.

We corresponded for years, then lost touch for awhile...and found each other again, thank goodness.

Jane tells the story better (and includes some funny pictures of me in grade school)...except the part where she says I was a good friend to her.  I worshiped her, of the long shiny hair, jetting off to college at one of the top universities in the nation.  She was not only a great friend but one of the best role models ever to walk across my path.  And still continues to be.  A girl couldn't ask for anyone better.

Jane sent me all those letters I wrote to her over my late grade school, junior high, and early high school years, and I have so much to say about how different things are now.   It made me sad.  I seem so innocent and young compared to so many of the girls the same age today.  Of course everyone says how fast our kids  are growing up now, but really there is huge difference.  That's another post for another time.  OH, to be young again.  We aren't giving our children, I'm afraid, the same chance at a long lovely childhood.


  1. It is a little scary how quickly society forces our kids to grow up. The only thing we can hope for is that there are still a few "Jane's" out there to help influence them. Thanks for always being an inspiration to me Sarah to live simply and enjoy the precious moments with my children.

  2. What a treasured story of friendship. I read her post about you. Darling photos by the way! You are a unique person Sarah. What a gift for both of you over the years. Love that you shared this part of your life with us.

  3. Awww how Lovely! Gee she is a beauty!
    I love the pics of you on her page too!
    And the ribbons in your hair and frill
    on your blouse. It made me miss those
    days gone by if you know what I mean?!
    just lovely post xx

  4. Wow! WHo knew that letter could build something so strong. How cool that she saved all your letters. wowza!

  5. So special Sarah! There's nothing like a hand written letter and an old friend.

    Our kids are growing up fast. With all the technology it's hard to filter it all, and sometimes it's just too much.

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful story.

  6. What great memories, and she kept the letters. You never know the impact you will have on people!

  7. Loving this post! I too had a pen friend when I was in jr high, she lived in the city and I was definitely the country mouse. Over 20 years later we still write (albeit thru email). I have a box of those letters in my attic too.

    You are so right about our kids growing up too quickly. The boy knows more about life at 7 than I did at that age and it frightens me a bit.

    Also gobsmacked that maiden Jane is your Jane! I found her blog through yours and I'm tickled to know the connection now!

  8. I agree with your last sentence completely. What a neat relationship the two of you had/have! I loved what she shared, too, especially those photos of you. You are sweet, Sarah.

  9. I love this story.
    And I'll look forward to the post on childhood's shortening...I feel like in some ways I didn't do my first grader any favors by not allowing him things I thought he wasn't ready for (Star Wars, other violent cartoons, Nerf weaponry, etc.) because now other kids are taking advantage of his naivety. His class is nice, but of the 21 kids in class, SIX have brothers and sisters in high school already and it just raises the level of exposure to songs and other culture I think is inappropriate for that age. (And in particular--for this son. My younger is actually better at understanding fiction, oddly.) In the beginning of the school year he thought SpongeBob was creepy and still went to Day Out With Thomas and if he hadn't been exposed to his peers, I think he still would.
    I still think school has been great for him, and I like many of these kids, but there are parts I don't love, like the fourth graders bragging at the bus stop about the scores they got on Halo and Black Ops, or the fifth graders who yell his name and then scorn him for answering. I know, this is life, but the window for kids to be kids just seems to be smaller and smaller and it makes me sad.
    Sorry to vent on your comments but I'll look forward to your observations. And hope for some inspiration since you seem to be managing the age split well!

  10. Oh I love that your paths have crossed again and I completely agree with you that our children are growing up too fast. A friend's daughter who is 4 was recently told by her friends that they are too old to play with dollies! They are 4! I have yet to recover from this one.

  11. Juat the other day, my husband was regretting not pushing our son to participate in organized sports when he was younger (he's 17 now.) I told him we gave our kids something irreplacable - their childhood. We gave them time to enjoy the outdoors (we have woods all around and a stream down back), time to use their imaginations, time to spend with us and family, time to get to know who they are. There is only one chance to be a child and experience all the magic that comes with it.

  12. Oh Sarah, you made me cry. On the friendship part - I love how lives criss-cross paths - people come in and out and you never know how you will be touched by them. I treasure the connections I have made - whether family or friends - throughout the years. Isn't life all about our relationships? And even through the dips - or laps of physical presence - something can still remain. I treasure what we had - and what we have. You and I have lost freinds over the years and have learned to hold dear what is important.

    On the innocence part - I loved the childhoods that we both had. Even though we grew up in different "parts", we came from simple, hard-working, faith-filled homes and were instilled with old-fashioned values. We were protected from so much. It's sad how fast our kids grow up. I look forward to discussions you will lead on this topic. It doesn't seem we can turn back the clock. But I feel strongly that childhood needs to be preserved. By doing so I believe we give kids the strength they need to face the challenges of the teen years and beyond.

    On hair and beauty - fleeting! Even though I'm 6 years your senior, I think you have aged better then I have!

    Thank you for sharing our friendship which started with one letter. The power of your pen is great.

  13. I'm going to stalk you until you write that other long blog post with your opinions on how to provide that long lovely childhood to our children. I'm desperate to prevent my 9 year old daughter from growing to be 18 in just one year. I agree whole heartedly that late elementary school and middle school are not what they were when we were innocent. I would love to hear your thoughts on how to provide them with some of that.

  14. It is sad that they have to grow up so fast - its even worse in a big city like London. We just have to pray, a lot. And trust a lot. And remember that they are His. And that He loves them and watches over them.

  15. That is remarkable that a high schooler and 6th grader connected...can you imagine that happening today? Maybe? Those pictures of you are so sweet! It's true, you looked younger than the counterparts today, and I think that's a good thing! Kids do grow up so fast, I really notice it when I am shopping for clothes for my daughter. I wish my kids could roam free and safe as I did in the late 70's early 80's. Sigh.

  16. I have four girls ages 13-23. The oldest is a kinder-garden teacher. I encourage/encouraged them to take their time growing up. No hurry. You will be an adult the rest of your life. What you said is so very true! Children don't know how to be children any more. Rarely will they pick playing outside to playing a video game. Wish we could grab them and hold them to cherish the moments having them small! They grow so fast!

  17. I totally agree with you. Our children are being robbed of much of their childhood.