Saturday, August 20, 2005

tipping scales and flipping coins

"The central struggle of parenthood is to let our hopes for our children outweigh our fears."
Ellen Goodman, American journalist (1941- )

Four days until first grade, and my scale is tipping back and forth violently.

The matching Hello Kitty lunchbox and backpack now both bear her name and wait eagerly by the front door to fulfill their destiny. The school supplies wait less patiently in the plastic bag from within which they first entered my home over a week ago, urging me to likewise label them so that they may finally rendezvous with the backpack and proceed on to their final destination. The folder that contains as many questions as answers sits on the dining room table waiting for instructions to be read and forms to be filled out and commitments to be made. The first-grader-to-be is in her bed—which is an improvement from last night—playing quietly with her stuffed animals and deluding herself into thinking I can’t tell she is still awake at 10:30 PM. The mother of the first-grader-to-be wrestles with her emotions, trying to sort them out enough to put them into words, hoping that peace will come with full sentences and punctuation.

Hope versus fear—it is, indeed, my central struggle. Fear just seems to be naturally heavier—hope appears too light and airy to hold it’s own and tip the scale in its favor. More questions fill my mind than there is room to write or than you would ever care to hear without thinking me completely neurotic, should you miraculously not already. Will the teacher like her? I mean really like her? Will she appreciate her energy and enthusiasm? Will she encourage it or disapprove of it? Or worse yet, disdain it or squelch it? Will my daughter learn easily, or will school be a struggle for her? Will she maintain her joy for life and learning? Will they be quick to slap a life-altering label on her impulsive nature and energy-filled body? Will her classmates like her, or will relationships be difficult? Will she survive the playground, the locker room, the cafeteria? Will she learn the pain of rejection early? Can she handle the lesson? Can I?

Perhaps my fear is so intense because I am aware that the overwhelming love and pride I feel when I regard my daughter has been, in some ways, incredibly hard-earned. For nearly five years I struggled, as her mother, to not only accept her as she is but to embrace her as she is—the strong, passionate, creative, independent daughter I asked for and then was completely overwhelmed by. I adore my daughter. I always have, but now, I am able, for greater and greater periods of time, to enjoy her as well. This place was not arrived at easily—what if her teacher is not willing to make the journey? Or her classmates? Or their parents?

It occurs to me, in my wrestling, that my hopes and fears for my daughter are two sides of the same coin—there is, within her loud, dramatic, energetic package a child of immense promise and potential. Her capacity for joy, her zest for life, her passion and enthusiasm—they amaze me sometimes. Others may not be as enamored. I hope that people will see the good in her. I pray that people will see the good in her. I fear that many will not. And despite the fact that I would lay down my life to spare her the pain of that, there is not a darn thing I can do about it.

The mother of the first-grader-to-be wrestles with her emotions, wiping a tear from her cheek and preparing to shut down her computer for the evening. Nothing will be solved tonight. Four days to go, but at least the scale is balanced for now. Nothing more I can do but commit the outcome to the Lord who was a perfect plan for the soon-to-be-first-grader He loves even more than I do.

I wait for her teacher to flip the coin.


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Nancy L (formerly C) said...

Lorie, you and the first-grader-to-be will be just fine. God is in control. Always.
Nancy Cousins

lorie said...

Thanks, Nancy. I have to remind myself sometimes! Y'all have to read my "processing" until I get it down for good! (Yeah, right!)

Anonymous said...

so jealous. i've always wanted a matching hello kitty lunch box and backpack! they would go so nicely w/my coffee maker and waffle maker!
oh, take lotz of pictures. :)