Last week I took Max and Elle to the junior high to pick up their school schedules.
Max glanced over his, commented on a couple teachers he was glad he got, and that was that.
Elle, on the other hand, clutched that schedule to her heart and smiled….the kind of smile that was excited but nervous as all get-out.
Over that afternoon and the next day she talked to her friends to compare schedules. Every one of them she could think of. I figured the more she talked the more classes she’d realize she had with friends, and her nervous smile would morph into that confident and secure one I’m used to seeing. But with every friend she talked to her smile got a little weaker. One class with one friend. Then one more trickled in…and then there was a full stop.
As her friends compared schedules with each other, they gleefully announced more and more classes together. Elle, on the other hand, slunked back in a corner and worried. She wasn’t going to see much of her friends at school.
Her nervous smile got more and more gloomy…trying to keep her chin up (she doesn’t complain about much), but scared-to-death inside.
Now, what would a good mother do here? Pat her on the back and tell her everything would be ok. Tell her all about how many new friends she’s going to make. Give her the confidence she needed to go forward and be excited about school.
What did I do? Well, my instinct is to just change things that don’t work out the way you want them to. Talk to the guy seating people in a restaurant when there’s an hour wait and work your way in. Talk to doctors who don’t “get” your childs’ needs and tell them what must be done. Fight for what you want. Fight for your kids. That’s my philosophy.
So I mentioned to Elle that maybe we should just call the office and see if they’d switch things around. I mean, I could work the system here, right? Who says my daughter needs to go to Jr. High surrounded by people she doesn’t know? I could make it “right.”
At first Elle looked at me horrified…that same look she gave me when I told her she should go on the temple trip with all the youth in our ward even if she wasn’t quite old enough. That girl’s a rule follower. But she was desperate enough that she let that little bit of an idea work into her head for an afternoon. And by evening she was ready for me to fight to change her schedule.
The problem was that by then I had talked to Dave. Wise, wise Dave. When I told him the dilemma he laughed. How would Elle learn if I went in and fixed everything for her every chance I got? What happened to my continual mantra about how “we do hard things” in our family.
Of course he was right. And Elle knew it even before Dave spelled it out for me.
So, with her chin up and a nice pat on the back from her mother-who-has-learned-a-good-lesson, she’s headed to school in a couple days…to meet a bunch of new friends.
She’ll do just fine. After all, we do hard things.
And I better brace myself because I’m going to have to watch my kids do all kinds of hard things in life that it would be easy but totally wrong for me to swoop in and try to “fix.”
But I do hard things too.