Sometimes, the comments B makes make me happy.
I was quizzing her on math facts while driving her across town, and she answered them all without hesitation.
“You need something more difficult, daughter.”
So I asked her subtraction facts instead, answered with equally quick replies. I was surprised; we haven’t really worked on subtraction very much.
“How did you figure those out so fast?”
“Well, you know, Mom, everything is really just addition.”
My teacher self was so proud.
Sometimes, the comments B makes are painful.
“Mom, that girl at the park was so clever!”
“Oh really? Why?”
“She was really great at losing me!”
I want my kiddo to be able to go to the park and find a buddy to play with. Yes, she has her sister, but sometimes a 5-and-three-quarters (as she likes to say) needs a bigger-than-three to play with.
Instead, she finds kids that are good at losing her, while the rest play happily together.
I see her sweetness, her immediate love for all, her ability to make a friend in three seconds. They see her lack of respect for physical boundaries, her intensity, her oddness.
It’s hard on a mama.
We were at a girl scout cookie booth last weekend. B was tired, she had been at a practice for a play all morning. There were lots of people, lots of noise, unfamiliars everywhere. She decided to build a fort with empty cookie boxes instead of help sell cookies. I could see her point…it was quiet and shady in there. I would have liked to crawl in if I could have fit. Then, she chased balloons around like a kitten, paying no attention to where other people were standing or what they were doing. She had to be asked to stop. So, she took a ribbon with a balloon weight attached, and “walked” it, telling everyone it was her pet, Smiley.
Which was all fine. But odd. And little girls pounce on odd. A few of them took over her fort and wouldn’t let her in. Another scout reprimanded them and helped B recover her spot, which made me want to hug that little girl. Finally, we had to leave when B decided that she had had enough and settled down on a bench for a nap.
When I write it all down, it doesn’t seem so bad. But in the moment, it was uncomfortable, embarrassing, out-of-place. The other girl scout moms were watching her, no doubt wondering “What is UP with that kid?” while their children stood at the booth and happily sold cookies to strangers.
I feel awful when I am embarrassed of my girl, when I want her to conform to social norms and act like the rest of the kids. That is not who she is, and I doubt she ever will be. In fact, I don’t want her to be – that would mean that something broke her, and she gave up her exquisite self to be someone else, to fit in.
I need to put away my own pride and emotions in those situations and make sure that I support her in who she is when her individuality appears. That’s difficult some days.