Friday, August 6, 2010

Feeling Helpless

My kid was upset last night. My husband and I were in the living room minding our own business over a nice book each when it dawned on me that I had been hearing crying coming from upstairs. Our daughter has a couple of medical things going on that require "regular monitoring and periodic intervention". Nothing life-threatening but definitely life-long. She's always been such a good sport about it. The past year or so she has begun to occasionally express frustration that she has to have these things done but for the most part she takes it all in stride. Not so last night. Apparently, while she was writing down this weekend's sleep-over with a friend on the kitchen calendar (our Brain-Central of the house), she took note of the her scheduled trip to the O.R. in a couple of weeks. Now, this isn't a surprise- she's known about it all summer. But the take-it-in-stride stars just didn't align for her last night.

Maybe it's her age. My kid is an independent operator, not caring too much about bending to pressures from other kids or worrying too much if she's a bit off-beat. She is off-beat but that quirkiness is what makes her so fun and likable and she generally likes to be her own gal. It isn't because he's cute that she likes Johnny Depp movies- no, it's the quirkiness. Solidly into the tween years now, however, she has begun to care just a bit about her looks, being normal enough, and fitting in with the crowd. Not much, but a bit. So the regular trips to the little pool of physicians in which she swims must suddenly indicate to her that she's abnormal in some way. Don't you remember that feeling as a kid, that horror at thinking that you may not be quite OK enough?

So what does a mommy do after she sneaks upstairs and crawls under the covers with her kid? Well, you snuggle and huggle of course. And you let her cry. After awhile you ask, "What's the matter sweetheart?" and of course she says "Nothing." But the tone of her voice means, "Really big things are the matter and I'm trying to be brave but if you ask me again I'll spill my heart because I really want to talk about it and I need my mommy." (Tweens-- miles of sentences with no punctuation in sight and no stopping for air.) It's so nice to be needed, even if you have no idea how to help.

We don't know the burdens and troubles other people must bear. We do know people who are in situations that are so much more serious than ours. We pray for them and are thankful that we aren't in that place. We don't know why God has chosen to hold back His healing hand from our daughter. It's a huge step, even for an adult, to accept on faith something that you feel is deeply unfair. What do you say to the most precious person you know who harbors a suspicion that she is unacceptably different? Quirky and independent are one thing but "different", to a Tween, is a whole 'nother ball game. It's serious business.

I did my best to help her see things in a perspective that would take away her fears- fear of going back to the O.R., fear of being unacceptably different, fear of what things might be like years down the road. As parents, we do the best that we can, we pray more over one person than anyone else in the world, and we do our level best to keep our own concerns and fears hidden away. My daughter can tell you both of the times in her life she has seen me cry but neither one has been over her medical issues. She needs to know that I'm not going to fall apart on her in these situations. I need for her to know that they aren't worth falling apart over.

She is a Tween now. These are the discovery years, when she'll start finding out who she is, what she can do, where her talents are, and how she fit in to the world around you. She starts to change. She actually picked out some non-Tomboy clothes while school shopping the other day.

Maybe Johnny Depp is kind of cute after all.

Thanks for visiting today. Thanks for letting me spill my heart.

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