Friday, August 12, 2011

tour guide

My daughter has developed a new practice the last couple months that has been baffling me.

She literally asks me dozens of questions a day about the most routine things. Not the kind of questions she used to ask as a younger child (when the why's and why-not's were abounding) - but more detailed inquisitions like how do I wrap my floss around my hands? If we run the dryer twice for a big duvet do I use the same dryer sheets? Which way do I wipe down the counter after I brush my teeth? How do I hold the handles on the big red bucket we use for watering the pot plants? Should she return the extra granola to the big jar?

It has both flummoxed and annoyed me. Where was my independent daughter?! The one who did not want to be told what to do and had her own creative way for approaching everything in life and then some?

I've simultaneously been realizing that I have a full-fledged 'tween on my hands. Her art work has changed - it's more detailed and emotive. She's writing songs and crying more easily about daily things. It's beautiful. Her heart and passions are unfolding and I am both mesmerized and challenged to grow along with her.

She picked her own back-to-school style this year with confidence (thanks to Grandma): no polka dots and bright colours. She's more into florals, she said, she likes jeweled tones. (They look beautiful on you, I answered, you have olive skin your mama can only dream of.)

This year was a funky jeans jacket and skinny belts buckled around her waist. This year was reminders all through the aisles at Target that our styles are not the same, hers is different from mine. She said it softly and sweetly - but it was an assertion nonetheless. One I was proud of and I'm dearly curious to see develop.

I'm so proud of her.

So what was with the non-stop questions all day long about such simple things? One night it was about where to put a dozen things we were picking up off her floor after a big clean-out of her drawers. She was throwing away things only one year ago I was begging her to get rid of. Remnants of a innocent history she will forget long before I do.

At first I worried it was insecurity - was she nervous I would be upset if she was getting things wrong? Was she feeling pressured to get things right or done a certain way? I offered more freedom and even less directives; the questions amped up more.

Slowly I began to have an inkling. I watched her questions and how they fanned out. She came in twice for hugs and reassurances before bedtime one day, and once she was tucked in above a cleaned-up floor and freshly washed sheets, she asked me to sing our song to her. I knelt down in the dark - my favourite mama task of all - and stroked her cheeks and kissed her eyelids and sang her the song I had memorized as a six year old, made up between me and God as we talked late one night in my double-decker bright red bunk-bed.

She knew the parts where I pause to kiss her forehead and I knew the parts where she smiles with her eyes closed. The questions, I was realizing, were coming from a new sense of vastness. From a big unknown laid out before her. I asked her about it. Does the world seem bigger to you, Sis? I pulled her close - does growing up feel overwhelming right now?

She nodded her head and her eyes filled with opalescent tears. I felt her little shoulders shake and release. You are doing so amazing at such a hard job, I told her. Growing up is the hardest work of all and you are doing it beautifully. I think, I added, that you are getting even more beautiful every day, how is that even possible? She smiled shyly, her eyes squinting at me, testing my unobjective veracity.

She asked me a handful of new questions and this time I relaxed. I realized it's not fear. It's needing a tour guide. She was reaching for my hand with vulnerable question marks and letting me show her the way into a brand new landscape. I felt indescribably humbled and almost giddy with honour. My sweet young lady was trusting me to show her the way into a brand new (to her) reality.

As usual, I feel indebted to my girl. Her unabashed trust to learn and ask and be uncertain in the face of something too big for her, is a powerful example to me. I've been thinking back to almost five years ago when kindergarten seemed like such a big milestone and I was so nervous about letting her go off into a big world that I was worried would scare her. Her confident stride (with a still-nervous pale face) and her telling me adamantly that it was okay for me to leave, she would be okay, was miles ahead of me.

Today these new questions are a gift. I treasure them and wish I had a drawer to tuck them into that I would never want to clean out. I want to remember her face forever as she asks me again and again about something inconsequential. I realize that what makes it consequential is her beautiful openness behind it all to reach out and learn and grow together.

I want to be the same.

{39/365 is about this being the last year of my fourth decade. 
I am watching for God in my day-to-day life & I am writing about the gifts He gives me in this season. 
I am listening for His daily, beautiful presence in my years.... all 39 of them and counting. 
This week I have been thinking about the gift of being trusted. 
Please feel free to join me. }


Jennifer Jo said...

I need to have a talk like this with my daughter.

With tear-filled eyes,

Kimberly said...

simply beautiful.

crunchy peas said...

I'm finding 10 to be a challenging year. Thank you for helping me to see it with kinder eyes. Yours is such a beautiful perspective. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

It's already been said here, but your perspective is beautiful. Thank you for the reminder that these moments with our daughters are a gift, not a nuisance. Now, I'm off to fix my eyes because I'm all teary!

Jessica said...

this is SO beautiful! Oh I am so happy that you are a few years ahead of me and I have your mothering wisdom to read here. I need to remember your words and heart. She is so blessed that you are her mama!

Renee said...

I remember vividly riding my bike around my neighborhood, crying uncontrollably often at her age. 10 yrs old or so. I realized I would die some day. Really. And I was terrified. (with no tour guide!) SO grateful for your discernment and wisdom for your daughter. An inspiration for me, for sure!!

J said...

I've been visiting your blog ever since you wrote on Emily's Canvas Child blog. I have gleaned so much insight from you on living life now and living life gracefully. Thanks for your beautiful and creative Spirit. Your awareness of God's gifts in this Season of your life is such a wonderful assignment, and I'm looking forward to learning more from you!!

cari said...

Thank you for the gift of perspective. I'm a couple years behind you (with an eight year-old daughter) and so grateful to glean. The image of a tour guide is an incredibly helpful one.