When my youngest daughter was a baby, it became apparent, within the month, that she was not havin’ ‘nobody but me and mama. We had a few family friends that she would accept as proper humans. My mom. Big sister. Always big sister. But not Grampa….*Never* Grampa!! There is many a photo of her having all out mental breakdowns on the lap of various grandparents and squirming away screaming from family. At a proper distance, she would observe. She was curious. She would participate. She was very social. She was not shy….so long as no one touched her. Even addressing her directly would make her divert eye contact. Slowly…casually…but definitely. My dad always liked to make sport of this obvious caution, as if something were wrong with her. Truthfully, I think her inner workings intimidated him. Even today as he lives in a house with her, what he truly understands about her is very limited. The same things that kept he and I apart are obvious in the two of them. We are just different people.
When we eventually found ourselves far away from all these well meaning, “suspicious” humans, we were it. There were no sitters to call because it hadn’t become the norm due to her upset with anyone but these 1 or 2 people outside the home. There was just no one around anymore. We were all in a new place and making due. We did our activities as a family. She was home doing art with her mom. Or out and about with her and sister to museums, forest trails and playgrounds. Observing. And observing more. Day in and day out. Keeping quiet.
As her trusts, abilities and interests were growing, we (me) made the decision, at three, that it was time for preschool. She was over looking at us every day and ready to move on with her life. With a new leopard print sweater, and clunky blinky shoes, I took her to her prospective Montessori for an interview. When it came time for the other teacher to take her to tour the school, my stomach hit the floor. It had been going so well up till now! Now she’s going to have a high flung screamfest in front of these people and it will be over for us! You’re going to take her?! Away!?
…but away, indeed, she went. Quietly. Willingly holding Miss Laura’s hand. She returned fifteen minutes later…still alive…bouncing and full of confidence. Excited to get started. She was ready for this.
She has a lot of struggles. Like myself, she is an analyzer. She’s a thinker and she loves logic and order. Hard facts, not assumptions. And if you tell her something, there better be evidence and reasons to back it up. Because of this she has to learn things a certain way. Thoughts can weigh her down until they make sense. She stares a lot while she works things out in her head. She needs lots of decompression time. She draws diagrams for everything. She experiments. She builds. She tests. She uses everything for the opposite purpose it was intended. And technology is no match for her.
Around the time kindergarten started, I noticed she was telling me about every event coming down the grapevine. Football games. Art classes. Community groups. Birthday parties. Play auditions. Summer camps. Science fairs. Parades. Tree lightings. Concerts. Poetry competitions. Even historical reenactments for God’s sake…and she Wanted. To. Do. It. All. She wanted to try everything. She wanted to be a part of everything.
So we did. And we do. My time becomes hers as I am determined to let her walk through these experiences and opportunities I never had when I was little. The ones that were available, I was either too shy to try, or my father had chased me out of (bowling, baseball, cub scouts, young authors, etc.).
Today, I don’t know where the tiny, doubtful, furrowed brow, observer went. Although I miss her dearly at times, I am in love with the brilliant and fearless adventurer and the lover of life that she has become. She’s joined as part of two community youth groups this schoolyear and will be fulfilling her lifelong dream of being a safety guard next trimester 😂 Since this post became longer than I expected, I’m looking forward to explaining her Youth Choir and the Star Program in a few days. For now, I will leave you with some snippets of my daughter’s routine and insight into her busy little brain.