It’s after dinner and I’m sitting in the parlor of our church. In front of me is a large circle of children, from four years old to eight or nine. They’re rocking back and forth impatiently, waiting to be fit for their costumes for the musical “Noye’s Fludde.” There’s a group of girls, the “cats,” pretending to lick their hands and wash their ears, while another group of boys karate chops and kicks each other.
My daughter is sitting Indian-style, with her back straight and her eyes glued to the choir teacher. A little girl next to her asks her to thumb wrestle, Pearyn panics and looks at me.
Does she know how to thumb wrestle? Is she even allowed to? Will her Godly play teacher be upset if she does? Will mommy say no?
I’m raising a three-foot-version of myself – and some days – it absolutely breaks my heart.
I know the struggle she has ahead of her. I can see what mountains she has to tackle. I can feel the uncertainty she balances as she contemplates whether she should appease her peers or the adults. I remember those feelings. I remember that confusion. And I remember feeling left out.
Eventually, whether it was my mothers prodding or the confidence I developed from my athletic ability, I found my comfort zone amongst my peers. I flourished within my group of friends and by the time I went off to college, making new friends and being the loud, bold girl who could talk to the guys was a role I’d grown accustomed to. I knew my role and for the most part, I was good at it.
I can’t help but wonder how much easier my high school career would have been had I simply embraced who I was back then. Sure, at 14, 15, I didn’t really have an idea who I was, but I was so concerned with what my parents and friends were thinking I didn’t bother to wonder what the hell I wanted. College allotted me the experience to decide if I wanted purple hair, 15 piercings or a wardrobe consisting of crop tops and mini skirts (thankfully, it didn’t), imagine how much happier I might have been had I developed a comfort with myself earlier in life.
I want these things for Pearyn. I want her to feel comfortable in her own skin. I want her to be confident in herself (and to know her parents love her, no matter what, well, unless she becomes a serial killer, we might have some issues there). I want her to WANT to be her own person.
This is the hard part about parenting, I think. We have all these hopes and dreams for these tiny human creatures, things we think are good for them, but it doesn’t mean that’s what they’re going to want. It doesn’t mean it’s THEIR hopes and dreams. And I’m finding it difficult to find the right balance between hers, mine or if there even is one?
And if this balance even exists, how do we encourage it, employ it, without losing a little bit of Pearyn along the way?
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