I have a tendency to give up. I don't like confrontation. I don't like making waves. I don't like disappointing people. And most of the time, I just forget about what I wanted and take a back seat to avoid those things. Somewhere along the line, the tendency to give up has turned into a tendency to talk myself out of things before I even try. And I didn't realise it. Not really, anyway. At least not until last night. When I realised I was also doing it to my daughters.
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about Beege. She is such a brilliant kid. She's funny, and insightful, and unique. She's eight now*, and it's time to start preparing her for the wonders/horrors of puberty. I've worried about her fitting in, because I've never felt like I fit in anywhere. It's a lonely feeling, and like every other bad thing, I want to spare her that.
But really, she's fine. She's more resilient than I ever was. She stands up to bullies, and if she thinks something's important, she makes sure that you listen. She's sure of who she is and what she likes, and I've realised that she is going to find people to fit her, she's not going to worry about fitting herself to anyone else.
Beege and Kee like to watch TVOkids. And every time they bring up the phone number, Beege wants to call in. She always knows the answer, or has something interesting to say about the topic, and she wants to share. I used to let her. But she never got through. And at some point, I started telling her not to bother because she wouldn't get through anyway.
If I could use a time machine, I would use it to go back to the first time I said that and punch myself in the mouth before I could get the words out.
Last night when she asked if she could call, I was in the middle of making dinner. I started to say no, as usual, but instead "Go ahead," I said, and couldn't help adding, "but you probably won't get through."
She called the number and sat there patiently, holding the phone to her ear and looking very serious. I told her to hang up after a few minutes, but she told me it was ringing, and she would wait. Then someone finally answered. She got on the air. She told the hosts about Claude Monet, and that she liked his paintings of Water Lilies. She told them that she also likes to draw and paint.
And she was so happy. I wish I'd taken a picture of her face the moment she got off the phone.
How many times have I told her "no" to something because I thought she might get hurt? Because I thought she might be disappointed? How many times have I prevented that look on her face?
I admire her so much, and I want to help her become whoever and whatever she wants. And that means letting her feel disappointment. Letting her try things that might not work out. Letting her discover her own limits, and not forcing mine on her. Especially when mine are crap.
*Her birthday was on Friday. I'm still in shock.