Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Raising Right

Today is Number One's birthday. She's 12. And as I've indicated here probably just often enough to be obnoxious, we have got one fabulous kid.

But no matter how smart, how well they do in school, how well-behaved, how great the friends they choose--no matter how good a job we do, parents will always wonder what they are doing wrong.

I passed a billboard today showing a very little girl at a lemonade stand, and it said "Raised $1M to fight cancer. Including hers." Which got me thinking about the horror of cancer treatment and how terrible it had to be, yet there she is with a huge smile, and how parents try desperately to shield our children from that kind of hardship and pain. Yet it's what we go through in childhood that makes us strong adults.

My oldest kid is 12. By the time I was 12, I had dealt with my parents' divorce and my father's apathy, moving from Massachusetts to California and back (plus three other moves/school changes), deaths of several grandparents (two great, one grandfather) and my grandmother's subsequent worsening alcoholism, and being bullied by kids at school. Not to mention the first D on my report card and being dumped by my first boyfriend.

D has had to deal with her grandmother's death, and it was harder than the ones I dealt with because they had a very close, very special relationship. But my mother lived a day's travel away, so her death, while difficult emotionally, didn't impact my kids' day-to-day lives. That's the only truly difficult thing she's faced.

Obviously I don't want bad things to happen, and it's not something I have control over, anyway. But will she be well-equipped when they do start happening, as they inevitably will? Maybe the support system she has around her will be all she needs. Maybe the less difficult or more positive things that she's dealt with--day care, broken bones, soccer and dance programs--are building an adaptability and strength that will serve no matter what happens to her.

I hope so. And I guess that's all we can do.


MaryF said...

Happy birthday to your Number One!

My son also has been pretty sheltered, but I hope that the love he's received will give him the strength he needs.

Natalie Damschroder said...

Thanks, Mary!