Quietly Dismissed

6 Sep

BlossomI was dismissed from morning drop-off this week. I mean, not entirely – I still have to drive the car – but as we approached the school on Tuesday morning, my daughter said to me:

“Last time, Mama just dropped me off.”

“Do you want me to just drop you off, or wait with you ’til the bell rings?”

“Just drop me off.”

She had never, ever, ever said this before, but when I stopped the car, my big girl leaned into the front seat to give me a hug and a kiss, pulled on her backpack like an old pro, and hopped out – without a single look back. Admittedly, I was one of only ten parents to linger by the class lines last year – but still! I have to wonder: Were the other nine dismissed, as well?

Happily, I was re-instated on Wednesday – for thirty seconds anyway.

“Come with me,” she said as we rolled to a stop. “It was so cold yesterday!”

“You were cold?”

“Yeah. Weren’t you?” It was over 70 degrees Fahrenheit so no, I was not cold. I was not even remotely cold. “Besides, it was weird. I thought I was early. No one was in line. I couldn’t find my friends for the longest time.” I knew what she meant. A line of backpacks always waited by the fourth grade door, but the children were far away on the playground – half a world from where she stood – I mean, if I take a minute to view it through her eyes. So she invited me to take a bite out of cold – a bite out of her fleeting loneliness – by waiting with her once again. Until the first bell. Or – as it happened – the first friend, at which point she ran off again without a backwards glance – this time, without a hug, without a kiss, without even a brief wave – and I was free to go.

It’s a strangely painful joy, isn’t it? my friend Julie asks on Facebook. Yes. Yes, it is.

Another friend says stories like this make her cry. Her son just started Kindergarten; I understand.

But here is what I know:

My girl is confident. She has friends. A lot of friends, even if she chooses to play with only one or two each day.

She loves her moms. She loves her sister. She loves her cousins, her aunties, her uncles and grandparents, near and far. Family is important to her. We are her base, her launching pad, her support. She wouldn’t trade us for all the world.

Her heritage is important, too.

She walks taller this year – now that she’s been to Guatemala, now that she’s begun fourth grade, now that she sees friends every day, now that we’ve spent two consecutive weeks together as a family, all four of us, now that it’s September, now that it’s Fall – or just: Now. She walks taller than she did before.

So I celebrate. I celebrate arriving at school and having her leap out of my car, run onto the playground and cross the new turf towards the fourth grade door. I celebrate that she is where she needs to be, exactly where she is, today.

And if I cry a little sometimes because the intimacy of early childhood is shifting? The cheering in my head is still louder than my tears and I know, in the long run, it’s this confidence, this new-found independence that will guide who she becomes. I am bursting with pride to witness this – to witness her – blossom.

So I may cry, and commiserate quietly with the people who love her, and with moms who know how it is. I may. I do. And that’s okay.

But the Mayan Guatemalan children in the lakeside village where we recently stayed are free to roam the avenues between school and chores. And our girl, in so many ways, has chosen upon our return home to stretch her own legs and push her own limits, so she can roam the avenue, too.

She’s writing a bio now. It’s required as part of the fourth grade. Right on schedule, right on time, she’s deciding how to describe herself to the world. She asked me for the name of the hospital where she was born. She asked me how much she weighed. We’re lucky. We have all this written down.

She decided to learn the cello this year, too – my small girl, whose heart is so deep. She worried for days about this choice, fearing the cello would be too big. But they come, it seems, in a quarter size. She is elated. And I can’t wait.

I can’t wait to hear her play. With strength. Forte. With feeling. I can’t wait to hear how her next verse sounds.

Fourth grade. Big girl. I can’t wait to hear her play.

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10 Responses to “Quietly Dismissed”

  1. thebetaparent September 6, 2013 at 7:27 am #

    This was so beautifully written. My own daughter is only four-months-old, but I already dread milestones like this. Your post offered a really lovely perspective, I hope I can remember it when it’s my turn for no kisses goodbye or backward glances.

    • RoiAnn September 6, 2013 at 9:19 am #

      It’s shocking to me that with so many twists and turns in this parenting gig, still year after year, generation after generation, we all go through so many of the same things! I appreciate your comment – sending hugs to you and your girl.

  2. Jen September 6, 2013 at 7:59 am #

    My son is in first grade this year and I totally get this feeling. He started kindergarten a shy, reserved, cautious boy with no friends in his class (a few of his preschool classmates went to his elementary school, but they did not get placed in the same class). I watched his grow over the course of last year and expected him to take some time to adjust to first grade. But he fell right into step and is doing so well. He has grown so much since last year. He is so independent. And as much as my heart secretly wishes for those times he clinged to my leg I am equally proud of the confident boy he is becoming. It’s a bittersweet reality. But it means we are doing our job as a parent, being there when they need us and letting them go when they are ready. And being the fluffy cushion they can fall back on whenever they need it. 🙂

    • RoiAnn September 6, 2013 at 9:21 am #

      You’re going to make me cry. Yes, I hear you. My girl was the reserved leg-clinging one, too… for so long… but each year, we see her come out of herself just a little bit more, and now it feels to me like she owns the playground 🙂 Or at least her posse’s small corner of it.

  3. Judith Land September 6, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    You should be very proud…striving for well-being and making sense of one’s life is at the core of human nature. Knowing one’s true identity has far-reaching implications for behavior, motivation, and relationships. Life goals develop and are influenced by our perceptions of what is feasible based on our uniqueness, individuality, character, temperament, talents and self-identity. Conceptions of self affect how one’s progress towards future goals are evaluated, monitored, and pursued. Awareness and knowledge are the basis of self-understanding. The closer one is to their ideal self, the happier they will be. The development of an identity is a crucial building block for self-esteem, and an adoptee’s struggle to achieve a coherent story is often a daunting task. The sense of continuity of a past and present that is consistent and reasonably known is necessary for identity formation. —Judith Land, author & adoptee

    • RoiAnn September 9, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

      Thank you, Judith. I appreciate your comment, and I do hope our girl is gaining a strong sense of herself, where she’s come from, who she is, who she wants to be, who she is becoming. I agree – it is a daunting task – but she’s growing up with a strong sense of humor which will serve her well, and family around who are willing to sort things through with her as we go. And it is largely because of adoptees like yourself – who are willing to share their stories and vision publicly – that the adults in my daughter’s life are even ABLE to open conversations with her that help to make sense of it all.

  4. debweeks September 6, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    My 6-year-old still wants to stay close to me more times than not. My 4-year-old is an independent soul and has dismissed me many times. At times I wish the older would be more independent and the younger less. Yet, this is who they are and where they are in life. One day my 6-year-old will dismiss me more often than not. My 4-year-old? I’m not even going to think about that right now 🙂

    • RoiAnn September 9, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

      Well, in true tween fashion, this morning she said to me, “Mommy, please don’t drop me off,” and onto the blacktop I went towards her classroom door. Grown one day and small the next. I sure do love that kid. At every age.

  5. Jenna Hatfield September 7, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    Yes, I’ve been dismissed before. It’s a weird feeling, both the “I’m so sad” and “I’m so proud” rolled into one.

    • RoiAnn September 9, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

      It is! Isn’t it? and it’s only because I had so many mom-friends respond on Facebook that I even had the courage to write a whole post about it. Sometimes, this parenting gig feels pretty “i’m the only one” … and then other times? Not at all. Thank you for commenting!

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