So the email rolled through a little bit ago… “Just wanted to let you know that A had a really rough day today, crying a lot and asking for her mom….” And I don’t know what to do. I’ve read all the re-posts to facebook, all the uplifting blogs about how grace is what will save my children, not my strengths or my sins, about how fast time flows forward; and I still don’t know what to do, because I haven’t read anything about a kindergartener who perhaps is too young to be one, and I have yet to read anything that comes even remotely close to pinning the dot on how overwhelmed and lost I feel.
You guys, I love this kid. I have loved this kid since the moment I knew she was growing inside of me. K was different, I did want her, she was not a shock, but she and I are so very alike, so bossy, so all-knowing and many other characteristics that are both charming and not so much so… It took K and I a long time to like each other that much. Of course I love K, of course I would lay down my life for her. But you other moms out there, do you know what I mean when I say that I feel differently about A? She is the baby, my baby, my last baby. I can’t bear to hear her cry or see her hurt. Sitting here now and knowing she has 25 more minutes of school and that I can’t hold her on my lap until then is so awful.
She doesn’t like school she said. She doesn’t know who to play with or what to do. Other girls don’t always want to hold hands which she takes as the highest outward sign of bosom pals. She goes to lunch and is seriously overwhelmed and traumatized by all the raw heat and noise and shouting and stinky food. She goes out to the playground and says she has no one to play with and that she can’t go on the swings or the slide herself, she just can’t.
Making friends is not a conscious thing that I do. I don’t choose people out and go, oh, well she looks moderately scandalous (important in a friend), oft times a ‘nere do well (downright basic necessity), probably one of those moms I can laugh with and commiserate with, I’ll choose her. Nope. I think my friends chose me, or rather, we recognize a kindred spark in the other’s eye and off we go. How do I teach that when I don’t even know what it is?
I don’t have a problem with someone saying, well, you can read or you can watch TV or you can play Candy Crush. I would choose one (cough, candy crush). A can’t. Why? Is she overwhelmed? Is she tired? Who is this child and how to I fix her? How do I make her outgoing and warm and friendly?
Well the awful and perfect truth is, I can’t. I can’t make her into an image of her sister or an image of me. I can’t. There is no possible way that I can make her ready for something if she isn’t ready for it. No way that I can snap my fingers and make her mature.
So I guess what I do is this: I take her on my lap when she comes home. I tell her I heard she had a hard day, and we can talk about it, and she can whimper if she wants. I give her some medicine to combat what surely is a pretty high level of pain after FOUR shots in her upper arms today (contributing factor?) and I help her take a warm bath. I will wash her hair. I will help her out of the tub and let her stand on the toilet lid like my Grandma D used to do and I will rub her all down with a warm fluffy towel. I will let her choose her pajamas. I will feed her her favorite meal, and then I will hold her on my lap and hope she goes to sleep.
I never hoped one of my children would grow up magically, become a new person over night, and I don’t even really think I hope it now. But I can’t make her do days like this over and over again, it isn’t fair to her and isn’t fair to her teacher. Some flowers aren’t meant to be forced, and maybe I have one of them. Maybe this little flower doesn’t flourish under pressure the way her sister and I do. Maybe what this little flower needs is time. And oh that I could give it to her.