Monday, January 25, 2010

The One In Which My Child Makes Me Look Like A Fantastic Parent

Dotter has a soft heart. And I'm sure it's entirely due to my parenting skills.

The first evidence of this was when she came running into the living room where I was feeding Cletus. She was sobbing. Tears streaming down her innocent little cheeks, barely able to catch the breath, arms flinging around my neck, squeezing tightly....

"What? What happened? Dotter? What's wrong?"

"Juliet and Justin broke up!"

"What?" (Which was code for: What the heck are you talking about, you freaky little 8-year old.)

"Justin was trying to save Juliet and he couldn't and she didn't get the blood and then she turned old - and her face was so old! - because she's over two thousand years old - and now she Broke. Up. With. Justin!"

It took awhile, but I concluded Justin from Wizards of Waverly Place had been dating a vampire named Juliet. And, while she is over 2,000 years old, that's very young for a vampire. Anyway, when she drinks blood she looks young. When she doesn't she looks old. She could've drank Justin's blood; but she didn't (a la Romeo & Juliet). We didn't see the break-up coming. It's hard.

(Guess I won't be the only one in the family sobbing over elephant documentaries. Take that Jelly Bean, the Compassionless Teen.)

Sunday Dotter decided to do something that four years ago I would have labeled as "Impossible with a Capital I," that is Audition for a Theatre Production. A musical production, no less. We drove over (always with her forehead pressed against that window, like she'd rather be anywhere but in a vehicle. I've gotten so used to her doing that I often forget what it must look like to the average passerby), walked into the audition room and then systematically shut down. Grunts. "Would you like to take your coat off?" "ungh." Oh, the power that sound holds. Holds her captive. But I have learned throughout the years: What comes next? Explain what comes next! She needs to know what to expect!

So I start talking to her. To the average outsider I looked like just another annoying, freaky stage mom, talking down to my child who is totally uninterested, eyes unfocused yet staring at a wall two inches from her face (but who is really craving every single word, like precious, precious oxygen). "I'm going to go get the form we need to fill out - it asks your name and address and if you've been in any shows. Then I'll fill it out and give it back to the director. She'll put them all in a pile and call you up one by one. She'll say your name so you know it's your turn. Usually they start with the older kids first so the younger ones can see what to expect..."

Thank goodness a familiar face came and started chit-chatting with me. Taking my mind off the bundle of nerves on my lap, unable to sit in her own chair. I would tell her quietly in her ear to breathe. She'd forget if I didn't remind her. Just a small rocking. That's all. Back and forth the more and more people that came in. I'd tell her who they were, even though I didn't know. "That lady in the black shirt is the mom to the little girl with the pink dress." For some reason "knowing" who people are in a room helps her.

And soon it was her turn to walk up front. Her face was red. Her eyes scared. She was nervous. Couldn't remember where she went to school. Panicked. And all I thought was, "What kind of mother are you that sits there while your daughter suffers? Grab her! Pick her up and cradle her in your arms and wrap your love around her and tell her that she never, ever has to step out into the scary world again. That she can stay forever safe and sound in her own private world where no one can ever look at her or speak to her or touch her or hurt her or scare her..." But I know that's not true. And she knows it, too. Which is why she asked to come here. She wants to be the kid on stage like all the other kids. She wants to be the one who doesn't obsess over every little detail weeks before an event. She wants to be the kid that goes with the flow, not drowns in it.

And she did it! She endured. She stood in the face of her paralyzing fear and prevailed! She was in a room with strangers and she spoke. And then she sang! She didn't make eye contact, but one step at a time, people.

Driving home I asked her what she thought about the whole audition thing. She said, ""My heart was beating so hard it hurt. I thought it was going to fly out of my chest like a cartoon!"

On top of all that drama we continue to hear about the devastation that continues to blanket Haiti. Dotter insists we can help them all. All we need to do is go over there and invite them to live with us. We can get lots of bunk beds and put them in our dining room and living room and in the basement. And we can share our clothes and our food. And we can take them sledding.  
She left me this, along with her money she has saved up, asking me to mail it:

She's going to be my Little Mission Girl, for sure. God has filled that little girl with more compassion than the average person knows what to do with.

1 comment:

sue said...

she is such a little sweetheart. i love how you write about her...