Monday, March 25, 2013

Finding Your Balance

"Don't teach her that!" I would exclaim, as if someone had just introduced you to four letter words or shown you how to do the armpit-fart trick at the dinner table. The only real crime taking place, of course, was that people were encouraging you to to try and roll over. You could crawl before you could go from back to belly and I liked it that way because you were a speedy little thing and it was my one guarantee that you'd still be where I put you when I came back in the room from going potty.

I knew that I did not have much time before you figured it out on your own and saw no reason for an advanced course

As soon as you were walking, we made paths all over town. You especially loved Drake Park's giant umbrella of shade trees and the quacking, waddling ducks, but you would not set foot in that grass. I could sit myself comfortably at a picnic table to talk with friends and you would toddle ruts into that walking path, happy to stop at the edge every so often to make eye contact with me, your toes offering the green blades skeptic glances .

Once, at a birthday party for a friend, the girl's daddy had gathered the other daddies around the hood of a car to show them something impressive. From her daddy's arms, the birthday girl smiled at the roar of the engine, but when your daddy tried to hold you tight, you screamed and wiggled away from the noise.

It was the first time I saw clearly, that there was no need to tally up your life by someone else's measure, and I studied you.

You turned five and we opened the doors to the pleasant autumn air. In-and-out, in-and-out, you and your sister would go. On one of your rounds you began asking me about your tiny Little Tikes bike and whether or not the training wheels came off. I explained to you how, because the peddles were part of the front wheel, not centered, like on other bicycles, they were meant to stay on. Otherwise it would throw your balance off; the label clearly said so.

When daddy came home from work that evening, he marched right past me, straight for his tool box. I asked him what he needed it for and he informed me that he had seen you among the maple leaves, tools in your own small hands, one wheel already off, gauging how best to tackle the second.

I'd thought we'd been having a hypothetical discussion, but you were already at work testing theories.

The moment that those bolts and brackets hit the ground, you were unstoppable on that bike, and I learned to encourage you to press in when you thought that you were ready.

Your brothers and sisters have you to thank for going first; for teaching me how not to push too hard or hold back too tight.

At almost thirteen, you have a passionate distaste for fashion.

When we were at the store trying on clothes the other day, your sister exclaimed that she "could try on clothes all day long!" Your response?

"And I would die..."

But I love that your sister takes pleasure in clothing and I also love that you would rather be doing anything else but that.

You reject our culture's limited definition of teenager like those uncomfortable clothes that you can find no use for.

You are not less than ideal because you prefer the company of a few good friends to the attention and noise of a crowd. I've seen you brave as you've tried new things in your own timing. You have been bold in your passions, have learned to ride horses, taught yourself graphic design, and are constantly coming to me with new business plans you'd like to try.

Fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen can shake a kid up, and the world will try and standardize you, but I'm trusting that you will find your balance because you have known it since you were little:

Sometimes the best thing that you can do for yourself is set aside labels and just ride.

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**Update--we have been having difficulty with the link-up this morning but I think that I have finally gotten it worked out. Unfortunately, I had to start over and deleted last week's links in the process of trying to fix this weeks'. Ugh. Please forgive me for that. It was such a great collection, too.

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