Monday, July 21, 2008

My Daughter's Secret Life

Last week as I got off the bus from work and walked home down the pleasant boulevard, the trees and the wind miraculously making the air cool, I remembered the babysitter mentioning how nice it was in mid-afternoon to take my girl for a walk there.

I like to imagine the people she meets without me—they are, perhaps, the same ones I meet, as I walk home. But they don’t know I’m her mother. Sometimes when I am walking with her, we run into children and parents who know her name, her age, and who begin talking to her.

Once she and I were coming back from the store, and I stopped in front of two babies and their nanny and said, “Hey, look at the babies!” and the nanny responded in Spanish, “Hi (my daughter’s name), where’s your playmate (playmate’s name)? Has your tooth come it yet?” Wow, it makes me happy to know she’s got such a rich and friendly life.

Obviously, I make sure I trust her babysitter/nanny. I make sure her world is as safe as I can make it. But beyond that, I know I gain nothing by worrying.

Besides, I love to think of her having a small part of the world that is hers without me. (Well, besides the cupboard in the kitchen). I like to see new expressions, hear new words she brings me like little treasures, exactly like when we’re at the beach and she brings me shells the waves drag to the shores.

Maybe it’s just that she’s going through a particularly sensitive period right now—the move back to the States—that makes me happy for her independence. She’s been very clingy recently, and several times a day I think of drastically cutting my hair because she uses it as a handle to pull herself up or as a rope to cling to me.

I like her little shows of independence.

Even if it means I have to strip her before I feed her and spread newspaper beneath her chair--I like to see her grab her spoon out of my hand and feed herself yogurt or tomato sauce, or soup, or whatever we’re eating at the time.

It’s in the independence that I see our closeness. Then I see that she wants to be with me, not just when she needs me, but also when she wants me with her.

When she wants to share with me what is hers, all hers, I want to laugh and cry at once. When I’m with her all the time, what choice does she have? But when she waits for me to come home, laughs, babbles, and shares…that’s amazing.

I just hope I can figure out a way to allow her to always want to share with me, to always feel she can. Even in the times I have to correct her because of it, as when she shows me that she’s put small pebbles in her mouth, and I stick my finger in there and take them out, or when she shows me my wallet that she’s just emptied, and I have to pull the coins from her clenched fists.

1 comment:

A Living Nadneyda said...

I just love this idea, and your attitude toward your daughter's becoming her own person. Reminds me of that famous Lebanese poet, Kahlil Gibran (here are two out of three stanzas):

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

ALN