{The Little Girl}

I feel it’s important you get to know Shaylyn a little bit before we delve right into the details of the accident and the aftermath, so here we go.

I found out I was for sure pregnant around our son’s 1st birthday. We had planned for the baby and how close it would be to our oldest child. For the most part, our oldest was the most easy-going, happiest of babies. Because of this I figured it’d be no sweat having another kid so soon.

During the ultrasound the doctor asked if we wanted to know the gender. We said yes. He told us, “I can’t say for certain, but I’m 90% sure it’s a girl. The umbilical cord is in the way, so I can’t get a clear shot.” I was ecstatic, but tried to keep my joy somewhat contained. We even told people, “The doctor thinks it’s a girl, but the cord was in the way, so we’re not certain.”

During my pregnancy, Shaylyn was quite predictable. Every night when I’d lie down to go to bed, this baby decided it was time to party. The night time was when she was most active. Thankfully, she didn’t really continue this pattern as a newborn. Phew!

Shaylyn always hit her milestones, sometimes sooner than the average. She learned to talk fairly early on and even was able to ‘translate’ some of what her older brother wanted as he had a small speech impediment and wasn’t always clear. When she was about 18 months old, I was kind of singing the song Can’t Stop Loving You by Phil Collins to her. It came out the year she was born, so it was still kind of big at this time. I sang this chorus to her:

“I can’t stop loving you.
No, I can’t stop loving you.
No, I won’t stop loving you.”

– Phil Collins

She looked back at me and said, “Don’t stop loving me.” I looked at my little sister and she looked back at me – both of us wondering if we actually heard what we did. To this day, my little sister still remembers this.

Part of what she accomplished at a young age was due to wanting to be ‘big’ like her older brother. In most things, she only needed a little bit of guidance before she took off knowing how to do things. Sometimes, it wasn’t a great attribute for such a little thing to have.

Shaylyn was outgoing as a child. She once struck up a conversation with a gentleman in the grocery store line behind us. We were buying groceries for her younger brother, Lex’s birthday. She was giving him all sorts of info about how it was Lex’s birthday, what the theme was, etc. She then said, “You can come to the party if you want. Our address is…” and that’s when I cut the conversation off. The gentleman was probably a great guy, but I’m a bit paranoid and didn’t want some stranger knowing our address.

In 1st grade Shaylyn was known as ‘The Girl with the Hair’. Kids in her class didn’t always know her name and so when they went to talk to the teacher and needed to reference Shaylyn for whatever reason, they’d just say, “You know, the girl with the hair…” This was because Shaylyn had long hair that I made sure I did daily. It was in the early days of hair blogs and there were only a few around, but I tried to do something different and new every day. Shaylyn’s actually never had a real haircut (well, there was the time her and Tanis played barber shop and he chopped some sections out that we just had to let regrow), only trims so she still clings to her long hair.

There was a time our dog got out and I asked Shaylyn and Lex to go after him. The dog was a runner. Those kids were gone for way too long and I panicked. I had figured they’d catch the dog around the block and head back home, but that wasn’t the case. My husband, Eric drove all around the neighborhood trying to find them and we had no luck. Apparently another neighbor kid followed them and his parents called the police to help find their child. We also enlisted their help. Another neighbor found the kids right at the same time an officer did. They had walked to a part of the city that I didn’t even know existed. Those kids were so determined to get that dog home, that they didn’t even pay attention to where they were going and they didn’t know how to get back home. The next day was a zoo field trip for Shaylyn and I had already planned on going with her, but I was so glad we were able to go together and that I wasn’t still searching for a missing child.

Her 3rd grade teacher had a Chinese background and if I remember right, her mom was actually Chinese. So this teacher talked about her background every so often and it made an impact on Shaylyn. She started an obsession with China at 8 years old and never lost it.

Shaylyn had a rough summer between 3rd and 4th grade (I think), she had 3 or 4 friends all move away. She felt a bit lonely, but tried not to let it show. She still had a good friend that lived down the street and her siblings and her were always pretty good friends. When 4th grade started a new girl moved in. *Teryn moved in and was put into Shaylyn’s class. Somehow they hit it off and would be the best of friends for years to come. Teryn became a part of our family and Shaylyn became a part of her family. I was thankful for the timing of this friendship as I knew Shaylyn needed a friend outside of the home.

In 5th or 6th grade, she was able to be a narrator for one of the grades performances and showed no stage fright. She read her lines and did a great job. On field day she was able to take part in a few races. She ended up being the fastest runner in her class and so she got the opportunity to go against the other fastest runners in the other classes. One of which was her friend, *Ian. Ian’s mom happened to be one judge and I was another. There was a split second or two between Ian and Shaylyn, but because I honestly wasn’t sure which kid was quicker, I just said Ian was. It was still an accomplishment and one she was proud of.

Then she became a teenager…

*Names changed to protect identities.

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