She bold, bright, beautiful, and unapologetically herself. She’s kind, caring, lovable and honest. She’s never afraid to speak up for herself. When someone calls her “bossy”, she quickly corrects them and says; “Nope, I am a strong leader.” A message she hears every day from her passionate, strong-willed mama.
If someone asks her about her height (or makes a big deal because she’s tall) she looks at them inquisitively like why in the world would she want to be anything else. Her advice to anyone who is being teased for being tall, or small, or big, or little or being teased for anything is “When you wake up in the morning look at yourself in the mirror and know you’re beautiful, nothing anyone else says matters anyway.” She is the best friend I wish I had in the fourth grade when I was as tall as the teacher.
She is Niya and she calls me Auntie Dawn… because you know, friends become family. I simply can’t get enough of her sunshine and courageous spirit. When she was told she played too tough for the “girls basketball” team she shrugged it off and joined the boy’s team. I’ve seen her play and she may be too tough for some of them too! When it’s time for more focus and discipline she heads over to her boxing class where she is diligent in paying attention, training her tail off, and doing everything she can build her rhythm of right, left, jab, uppercut, hook, right, left. She’s not afraid to get dirty or play one on one with her big brother at the hoop in their backyard. A few minutes later she’s cuddling on the couch with her Yorkie giggling and screwing up her face when the corny Christmas movie she is watching calls for a kiss. After that, she’s primping in the mirror and wondering what to wear.
She is full of energy and wonder. She’s taller than most of her classmates and probably always will be. I think that is why I am so enamored with her life, she reminds me of myself, and her mom, determined to make sure she is the best version of Niya she can possibly be, reminds me of my mom… Mrs. “Don’t like it, don’t look”.
She is everything a little girl, a little human should be! Curious, funny, loving and loveable. Simultaneously loyal to her big brother while chewing his head off. She’s daddy’s girl and mama’s baby, she freely gives love and quick-witted jokes, she can talk a mile a minute and gets unusually quiet when she is curled up with a book from her last trip to the public library, proudly proclaiming she is already on page 157.
I am in awe of her, and in wonder for myself. How many of us used to be like this? Then something happened, and maybe we lost our awe and wonder. I am all for gaining it back, ALL OF IT!
Life gives us mentors in the most unforeseen places. She’s my awe and wonder mentor. She is unapologetically and authentically Niya, and my wish for her is that she always will be.