Which facts, exactly, does she mean? And how did she leap to the conclusion that she knows more … facts … than me?
I pause. A long time. A really, really long time. It’s not the first time she’s alluded to this belief, but it’s the first time she has expressed it so clearly.
I realize I am one of those parents who’s honest with my kid about what I don’t know, hoping this will help her later in life to not worry she must always be right or always know. So far, though, it doesn’t sit with her very well. It may have backfired. Rather than inoculating her from perfectionism, it may – instead – have made her feel insecure.
Sometimes, I think security is a ruse anyway.
Who really feels secure? We’re all scrambling to make people believe we’re on solid ground – maybe some of us struggling more than others to lay solid ground under our kids – but who really feels secure in their lives, in their families, in themselves? I suppose I’m tipping my hand more than is socially acceptable when I say that I honestly can’t imagine how real security would feel. It’s like Big Foot, Fairies, or the Loch Ness Monster – mythic, revered, but unseen. Security. And if I don’t know how it tastes, how can I feed it to my kid?
So maybe Miss E is right. Or partly right. About me. Maybe she does have a better handle on facts than I do. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe my way of seeing the world as a mystery … scares her.
But this goes far beyond my honesty with her about things I do not know, and far beyond the boundaries of the conversation we had on our way to school.
“Everybody knows something worth knowing,” I finally say. “They just don’t always know the same things as you.”
“That reminds me of something!” she shouts. Something sparks. Her voice catches. We are around the corner from school. “Be yourself,” she quotes. “Everybody else is taken.” She’s referring to a poster at school.
“Yes!” I agree, letting her out of the car. She blows me a kiss, tells me she loves me. I tell her to have a good day.
And there is nothing sad about any of this, despite how our conversation began. There was a connection, a spark – however faint, however elusive.
You never know what will stick.
And I see again what I have seen so many times before: We are all just doing the best we can.