29 May A good life
In about an hour, I will drive to my daughter’s elementary school and take my place in a plastic chair in the cafeteria to watch the annual first grade patriotic concert. The kids will sing “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “This Land is Your Land,” and other classics. The tear-jerkinggrand finale “I’m Proud to Be an American” will be the highlight of the show. The children will perform it so well that after the applause, there will be an encore where they will repeat the final song. I am not clairvoyant, but I am on first grader number three, so I’ve seen this concert twice before.
My child wants to morph into Taylor Swift when she grows up. If she can’t actually BE Taylor, she will settle for being in her band or at least her best friend. If she lacks talent (I’ll never say), she overflows with determination.
Emma is wearing the same dress my older daughter wore for her first grade concert. Navy with white stars. Red bows on the shoulders. Very flaglike. Emma’s been looking forward to this day for weeks. The dress, oh the dress! She could barely contain herself – she chose it over pajamaslast night. She wanted to be sure to be ready as soon as she awoke. Her red headband with shiny silver stars and her blue high heels (clogs) were placed neatly by her door.
Tragedy struck when she finished her Apple Jacks and went to the fridge to read the school schedule held to the door with a magnet. She remembered that today is gym day. Tears streamed down her dimpled cheeks as she told me between sobs that she had to wear sneakers. No royal heels. The perfect red, white, and blue outfit would be ruined with pink gym shoes!
I talked her down from the ledge and she recovered enough to jump on the bus with a smile (and pink shoes). Disaster averted.
Her drama is more than I can understand sometimes. At the slightest disappointment, she cracks. Also this morning she had a sore hand and a tangle in her hair. Both caused wailing. I have no patience for children who complain (I’m the only one allowed to do that!) so I typically don’t indulge her fits.
I compared her to the boy who cried wolf when she acted like death was imminent because her hand hurt from sleeping on it wrong. She didn’t like my comparison. But it’s true. Someday she’ll have a broken bone and I will blow off her complaints of pain.
Drama and sensitivity go hand in hand. She understands complex emotions on a level much deeper than a seven-year-old should. A friend lost a baby a few months ago during pregnancy and when I prayed with the kids about this, Emma cried. And cried. For a day or two.
Almost a year to the day after her great grandma died, she remembered. In kindergarten, she missed school picture day because of the funeral. When picture day came around in the fall of her first grade year, she grieved again for a grandma she hardly knew.
An exchange student from Norway will stay with us next school year. Last week at bedtime, I prayed for his family – for his mom and dad to be okay in the absence of their son. Guess who broke down in tears? Yep, Emma cried for the parents of a teenage Norwegian boy she has never met.
She cries during movies. She cried when her student teacher was finished for the year. She will cry on the last day of school. I’ve come to expect her meltdowns.
Her heart is tender. My prayer for her is that she will continue to be sympathetic and brimming with compassion, but yet would not hurt. That’s going to be tough.
She quietly muttered a few words one day last week when just the two of us were in the van. The warm May wind blewon my face making it hard to hear, so I rolled up my window up and asked her to repeat herself.
“I have God and a nice mommy and daddy and lots of friends. I am a singer and dancer and a good artist,” she said. “I have a good life.”