Every couple of years, that catty gal, mother time, pads in on muted paws, purring noiselessly, unnoticed until she firmly places her mouth on the nape of our babysitter's neck and carries him or her away. One by one, our sitters get snatched up in the teeth of time, and, before I know it, grow up, graduate from high school, and go off to college.
It ain't the cat's meow, for sure. That's why I'm a dog person.
I try to keep that clever feline from taking our babysitters, by leeching onto the new graduates' ankles and graveling shamelessly. I beg them to stay just one more year. But mother time turns and hisses, warning of what she has planned for me.
Besides, their parents give me odd looks.
Therefore, I settle for simply giving them the same advice I plan to give my own children upon their departure from the walls of family bondage:
1. Don't call me if you end up in jail. I won't bail you out; but I might make the trip downtown to peer at you through the bars and tease you with false hopes of salvation, only to see the look on your face when I leave with my passenger seat cold. Believe it or not, you will thank me.
2. Remember that character gets exposed when a person faces an overwhelming challenge, such as finishing the last up-hill push of a 10 mile hike carrying a 60-lb. pack. Some people sit down on the trail, cry and tell their companions to go on without them. Others drive on through, ignoring the pain, yet failing to appreciate the adversity. Be the individual with the most moral stamina, who gets up, wipes away the tears, hoists his load onto his back, and forces his way to the top, recognizing the effort it took to get there.
3. Play a little at your parent's expense. One semester spent searching for yourself in places you've never traveled won't set your life's course awry. And your dinner party conversation when you're 40 will scintillate; or at least not come off as disinteresting as discussing your opinion on the federal government's environmental policy responsibilities to the recently discovered and much misunderstood, dime-sized Fellanged Sniper Beetle of Moggle Creek in Marks, Miss.
4.When you go seeking yourself, don't expect to find anybody. Things are always in the last place you look, because that's where you left them. And the last place you left was home. After you've had all you can take of the world, go there. You are everything your family.
5. Discover your passion. It's the key to every success.
6. Follow your heart. Lot's of folks will say things like, "Don't do that. You can't earn big money," or, "Do you know the odds for achieving success in this career? You won't make it," or, "You'll never get any respect or recognition as a ..." It is all wind in the trees whispered by people who ignored their own hearts until their hearts quit beating.
7. Find a mentor: a coach and a cheerleader. Someone who will sell you to yourself.
8. Live with moderation but not with mediocrity. Buy the best cologne and the best wine, but don't use too much of either.
9. Choose classics over crazes. Be a trend setter not a fad follower.
10. Never fear changing your mind. That's why universities offer so many degrees.
Most of all, get a dog and leave the cats to themselves. Cats will turn your hair grey.