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June 21, 2012
This is Not a Stone
Just You Wait!
by Hannah Bird

This is for my beautiful daughter, Coray, on the occasion of her graduation.

In the classic musical "My Fair Lady," Eliza Doolittle loses patience with her mentor and occasional tormentor, Henry Higgins. In lines gustily sung by drama geeks everywhere, Eliza plots a wistful revenge. "Just you wait 'enry 'iggins. Just you wait. You'll be sorry but the tears will be too late. And while your 'ouse is burning down, I'll get dressed and go to town. Just you wait 'enry 'Higgins just you wait."

We smile and sing along because we have watched Higgins patronize, belittle, and berate the loveable Eliza. While her threat is hyperbole, we enjoy the sentiment so much that we echo it to one another at every opportunity.

Most of you now think that I have lost the plot, slipped a cog, or gone round the bend. When, you may be thinking, have I ever quoted a 1960's musical? Have I ever heard anyone else do it?

Yes. You have. At every benchmark moment of life, we hear the Eliza chorus, "Just you wait." A child works hard and graduates from high school. "Just you wait," we say. "Just you wait until you get into the real world." A young couple gets engaged and the Elizas start in again. "Just you wait until you have to plan a wedding. Just you wait until you have to make it on no money. Just you wait until you find out what life is really like."

The newlyweds announce a pregnancy. "Just you wait until morning sickness/ the third trimester/labor." A much-loved child is born and the young parents show off their sweet baby. "Just you wait," says some knowing loved one. "Just you wait until she can walk. Just you wait until she is two. Just you wait until she is 16 and all the boys are at the door."

If the parents mention financial difficulties someone is sure to remind them of braces and college and missions and weddings and all the other potential nightmares of a family's financial life. Just you wait.

We are threatening those with love with their own futures. If you enjoy today, just you wait until tomorrow. You have no idea how awful it will get. Like the early mapmakers said, "There be Monsters." No wonder we are all so anxious.

It would be excusable if our warnings were at least the truth. But they are not. When we look back on our lives, the same moments we were warned of are the moments of joy.

We remember the sense of pride mixed with white-hot terror as we embarked our first real job. We remember tiny dingy newlywed apartments. We remember burnt dinners and lots of sex. We remember our babies becoming independent. We tell charming stories about how cute they were when they were two.

We find that teenaged children are God's greatest gift. Who else is as interesting and fun? We enjoy late night talks after dates. We rejoice in letters from missions. We cry happy tears at weddings as our families grow. The same life we warn and worry about, we rejoice over once lived.

I am not advocating that we stop saying, "Just you wait." When we have more experience and wisdom, there is nothing wrong with sharing it. Let's just make sure we are telling the truth.

Life is a blessing and a joy. There is heartache and suffering. But there are days that shine so bright it makes your head hurt.

Let's just tell the truth. The next baby shower/wedding/graduation/ or other benchmark moment you attend, take a moment to say, "Just you wait. This is going to be awesome."

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