Thursday, July 7, 2011

“Why Can’t I Be a Normal Kid?”

My little girl spent part of the morning crying because she has to do something different than the other children (wear a swim cap for swim class). Asks me, "Why can't I be a normal kid?" Now, let's start with me saying I don't know what that is. In a lot of ways she is a typical eight year-old from what I see, but in a lot of ways she is totally unique. I don't want her to believe she has to do what others do, say what others say or believe what others believe. I want her to believe she can be as that one commercial says, above the influence. I want to teach her to build a sound decision making process of her own.

Not that I didn't feel her pain. I'd asked myself a similar question time and time again. "Why can't I be like the other wives?" I asked myself and God that question more times than I care to admit. Only answer I remember was "Because this is your life." It's been from other experiences, teachings and encounters that I have learned my path as tough as it has been has as much purpose as anyone else's, that my life can still be wonderful anyway. God has poured His heart out to me in His word and through people's love and my pastors' love, support and teachings to the point where I believe that now. Today, I could just tell Ariana she will just do what I say. But no. I gathered myself to pour out my heart to her.

Ariana you were not born for that. Get used to standing out in a crowd honey because you were born to be different. This time it's just a swim cap, but other times you'll have to stand up for things much bigger and do what is best for you even when it means the crowd goes the other way. Not sure what normal is, but that is not for us. You were born to stand out. You were born to be great. You were born to lead, not to follow. You're going to be standing out and being different your whole life, because that is our destiny.

My mind raced back to a day four years prior. Ariana was four years-old and then my only child. I arrived to pick her up from pre-school to find that all of the children had gotten into the finger paint and decorated themselves like ninjas while the poor teacher was vacuuming the other side of the classroom. It was a real sight and as I searched the crowd for my daughter I crossed my arms, began tapping my foot and drumming the fingers on my right hand on my left elbow. I saw her, but she was facing away from me. I called her name and I closed my eyes. I opened them when I felt Ariana grab onto my legs and heard her yell "mommeeeeee!" like she did everyday. I reached down to hug her and opened my eyes. I was delighted and I'll admit surprised to see she had not one mark on her. She had been the only child to stay out of the paint. She said she was asked to participate, but refused, telling her friends it wasn't right, that they were not supposed to be in the paint. How they managed to do this under the nose of the teacher I never figured out really. Could ten four year-olds really be that sneaky? I have never forgotten the pride I felt and I've reminded Ariana of it several times when she has these types of issues. This time I didn't fall back on that. I thought I'd come up with something much better.

Okay so my little speech did nothing for her present crisis. She continued to cry even louder, but it was true anyway. So, I took a stuffed animal that was in the van and put it on her head and asked, "Am I trying to get you to wear this?" She said no. I told her, "Now, if I tied this to the top of your head and told you to go to camp, I believe that would be a bit much." I saw a half-hearted smile. She tried not to but it happened anyway. Of course Elijah had a huge smile on his face and when she saw that, she almost choked trying not to laugh. I don't know the chlorine content of that pool and don't want it in her hair for the hours between their swimming lesson and when I pick her up. So, we came to an understanding. She would wear the cap for swimming lessons and when she goes to a pool or water park with me, and I can do her hair after, she won't have to wear it. Was she happy? Not really, but that wasn't the goal. The goal was to get to work on time, but to make sure she'd wear the cap and I could drop her off at camp in an acceptable state. She looked like I'd spent the morning slapping her around.

It reminded me of a hilarious, but accurate statement a very good friend of mine from college posted as his facebook status one day. Martin was always a funny guy and he married Melissa who was also a college friend. They have two beautiful daughters, one who is a year older than Ariana and one who is a year younger than Ariana. The girls see each other once a year at UNC's Homecoming along with two other children of a classmate of ours, but act like they've been together all year. Anyway, one day he posted "Little girls have more drama than TNT". That's the network with the slogan "We Know Drama". He had a few of his friends with daughters including me confirm his statement. He's right. They could certainly learn a thing or two from mine. But he wouldn't trade them for anybody or anything and I wouldn't take all the wealth in the world for my little girl. At least I'll never be bored.

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