By: Jane Samuel
She calls me from the spa-sleep-over-birthday-party and I am not surprised. There is a catch in her voice and she is asking me to bring money. I don’t question. I just get in the car and drive to her.
When I had pulled up in front of her classmate’s house two hours ago to drop her off, she looked unsure. There were girls on the front lawn that were not her close friends. But she turned to me and with her words and conviction climbed aboard that fine line she is now trying to straddle between the small world of a child with learning disabilities and emotions too hard to predict at times and the world of cool tweens. “Mom, I have to go. This is the first girls’ sleep-over party I have been invited to by the kids from my school.”
I understood, but it didn’t make me feel any better as I pulled away. I just hoped her words made her feel better, stronger, safer. Made her confident that she could trust herself to know what she needed, and what felt safe and what didn’t.
Now, I look into her eyes, below her furrowed brow and above her tear-stained cheeks at the deep pain that lies there. Pain laid down years ago, back before I ever knew this child, before I called her mine, before I loved her and she loved me. We – she and I – have worked so hard to move this pain up out of the abyss of her black-brown eyes and into the world. Out of her heart and into her head and through the synapsis off into the world where it cannot hurt her anymore. Where it cannot cause shame, and disgust, and frustration, and confusion. Where it won’t interfere with her thought processes, her speech processes, her hearing processes, her cognitive processes, her being and doing and living.
But I see once again as I stand here getting bitten by late summer mosquitoes and bide my time waiting for her to make her decision, that there still dwells in there a darkness, a questioning, an uncertainty in herself, in her safety. She tells me I cannot make the decision for her. For if I say, “Come with me dear one your friends will understand” and she doesn’t want to then all is lost. Or if I say, “Stay here dear one and have fun” and she doesn’t want to, then all is lost. She cannot make up her mind, she doesn’t want me to make up her mind for her, yet she knows enough to know that this is a hard situation to be in.
Clearly, I am still her safe zone. Despite the fact that she has been slowly moving away from the one I created for her – the one that keeps her world small, predictable, caring and slow to transition – into her own she clearly needs me.
But what to do? When do I let her take the shield and walk into the battle of life herself? I don’t want to rescue her too much. But then again, I don’t want to expose her to that which will take perhaps days, weeks, months to ratchet back from.
Perhaps this birthday party with girls from school wasn’t such a good idea. Do these girls have what it takes to be a friend to a sensitive one like this one, my child, the child with the deep dark brown eyes? I don’t know. All I know is that we have come far enough along the continuum of healing that some decisions are ours together now.
That she has a voice and I must step back and listen to her thought process as well.
And bask in the glory that she finally has enough introspection to have a thought process.