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After receiving kind feedback from readers about her monthly "Lifelong Learning" columns, Lu Sweet has compiled them into a book entitled I'd Rather Sit at the Kids' Table. Some of the profits from each book sold are being donated to the unrestricted scholarship fund at Western Wyoming Community College. Anyone interested in purchasing a copy of I'd Rather Sit at the Kids' Table may email Lu Sweet directly at lsweet@wwcc.wy.edu.

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Lifelong Learning - Ponytail Holders (July 2014)
By: Dr. Lu Sweet

The next time you see me in Rock Springs and I'm fortunate enough to shake hands with you, take a look at my right wrist. Most likely you will notice two or three ponytail holders residing there. There are two reasons for this: First, even if I'm already wearing my own hair pulled back, I might need one. These things break easily and usually at inconvenient times. Secondly, and more importantly, I have three teenage daughters and someone always seems to need one. Sometimes they will need it for their hair and at other times, they will use it to tie back a t-shirt that is suddenly too big or in the way.

I tell myself I have these bands on my wrist for emergencies, but I really think I started wearing them to make sure that the girls might "need" me for something that they couldn't get from anyone else. They could always count on me to have one. Sometimes, I would end up with four, maybe five ponytail holders on my wrist at one time. I seemed to be the depository when they DIDN'T need one and the "go to" when they did.

Lately, I'm starting to cut back and only carrying two or three extras with me. The chances that all the girls will need one at the same time are fairly slim. I know I'm still important to them, for much more than ponytails, so I've decided to de-clutter my forearm and wrist.

I can't remember exactly when my girls didn't need me to help them with their hair any longer, or when they got their makeup on well, without me. It seems like they went from being small children to independent, capable young ladies overnight. They do their own laundry, they mow my lawn, they drive, they prepare meals, they do so much. Sometimes I try to remember exactly when I taught them a certain skill, and I realize it's been a gradual process that just happened. I also realize that the older ones have taught the younger ones.

In the next two years, two of my daughters will graduate and move on to the colleges of their choice. I know they will be ready to stand on their own and they will have their own emergency hair ties on hand (or wrist), even though I'll always be there for them.

It is hard for me to watch all three of my girls grow up and move on with their lives, but at the same time I am so proud of the young ladies they are becoming. Truth be told, this process of letting go is probably harder for me than it is for them. But, if I have done my job as parent correctly, they SHOULD need me less in little ways such as ponytail holders and our relationship will actually grow in many other ways. Actually, that part is already happening. I am enjoying it and I'm looking forward to the new aspects of our new relationships.

I absolutely miss my "little" girls, but I love and am so proud of my beautiful young ladies. I'm not sure if I'm ready to wean down to one ponytail holder yet or not. I guess time will tell. I might be able to for a few years, but then maybe the grandkids will need an extra one once in a while.



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