Friday, March 07, 2008

today's lesson is brought to you by the letter "D"

Today, my sensitive, spirited daughter learned the "D-word." Curled up in her booster seat, she sniffled noisily as I maneuvered my way through the slush-covered streets. We were supposed to be headed somewhere else, but because of the snow, we were headed home. My heart broke for her, but there was nothing I could do.

Disappointment. Today, he and my daughter became well-acquainted.

Selections for district speech meet representatives were made in January. One child for each category from each class. "I really hope I get picked this year, Momma," she confided one night. And so I helped her prepare. Every night we rehearsed, and, sure enough, she came home beeming one afternoon. It was the first year she'd been selected, and she was as pleased as punch with herself, as she should have been. I was thrilled for her and frightened for her at the same time. If all went well, it would be a great experience. If not, well...

And so it was that I was prepared for her to forget a line or fumble a sentence, but was not prepared for the weather. Speech meet was cancelled, in the midst of a midwestern snow storm, not to be rescheduled. I came into the classroom to pick her up, and her nose was red. She held it together until we got out to the hall. "They aren't going to re-do it, Momma," she cried into my coat. "I'm not going to get to go. I worked so hard, and now I don't get to do it."

I teared up for her then, just as I do again, now. This is a hard lesson for a third-grader to learn. It is a hard one for a tender-hearted mother to watch, as well. We curled up on her bed at home, the colorful outfit we'd negotiated the night before now splotched with her tears, and I let her cry herself out. "Mrs. Smith told me it was nothing to cry about," she sobbed. I sat her up and turned her toward me.

"You listen to me, Sweetpea," I said. "This time, Honey, your teacher is WRONG. This is the PERFECT thing to cry about, and you can cry all you need to, do you understand?" She nodded, burying her head in my shoulder again. "This is a very disappointing thing, and it is perfectily okay to be sad. Don't let anybody tell you differently, Baby."

I waited for a break in her emotion, and I went on. "But here's the thing, Sweetie. You be sad now while you're sad, and you get all that sad out. But then you've got to take all that sad, and you've got to put it all in your hands, and you've got to give it to Jesus. And you've got to tell him, 'Jesus, I'm so sad. Will you please help me not to be sad anymore?' And then you've got to choose to stop being sad, and focus on what's next. Be sad all you need to right now, Honey. But in a little bit, we need to give it to Jesus, so you won't need to be sad anymore."

She looked up at me and nodded, and in a few minutes looked up again and said, "I'm ready to be done being sad now, Momma." And so we took that sad, and we placed it at the foot of the cross, and we got up, and we went sledding.

Disappointment is painful, but it is not fatal. Perhaps she and I will learn that one together, as we both continue to grow up. Perhaps our hearts will toughen up, perhaps not. But at least she is learning where to go with that tender heart to receive peace. I pray that THIS lesson is the one that sticks in her mind the most.

Asleep now, after a night of movies and dancing and chocolate, she looks like a contended angel. I am cautiously relieved. We made it through the evening. And though I would have given anything to see her recite her poem, I have never been more proud of her than I am at this moment.


Angela said...

This post brought tears to my eyes. Shame on Mrs. Smith, that was not cool.

Julie Morrison said...

Wow, I really like the lesson. I think it was perfectly timed. I would love it if you could bring her to class and have her recite her poem. Think it over.

lorie said...

Yeah, Angela, I wasn't real thrilled. I don't think she meant to be unkind, but I think it definitely shows a lack of sensitivity.

It wasn't an original poem, Juls, but I'll consider it. Biggest prob is that it's a school night...

She's doing well, and enjoying the snow!