I'm still trying to understand how our oldest daughter managed to fly through her elementary years and is now (excitedly) entering Jr. High in the fall. Seriously, where did the time go? How did this sweet little baby girl transform into a beautiful young woman who is now taller than I am at the ripe old age of 12? I always knew this would happen and so have made every effort to BE THERE IN THE MOMENT as much as possible, but despite my best efforts to take notice of every day and every moment, here I am wondering how we got here already.
This past year, her sixth grade year, Hallee really wanted to excel, to give her best effort to school. It paid off. Term after term she came home with a perfect report card, and I was so proud of her. I mean, I always knew she was capable of that, but it was so rewarding watching her find that out about herself as well. And reality was, it didn't take strenuous effort to get there--just a bit more focus and desire really. Hallee has always been extremely responsible, so despite the many warnings and threats that sixth graders often get about needing to be on top of things, she had that part in the bag, constantly checking her grades and scores online to make sure she had everything turned in.
That's why when she came home from school the last day and collapsed on the couch in uncontrollable sobs, I couldn't imagine what the problem could be. My first reaction was that someone must have done something terrible to her, caused her some sort of tremendous physical or emotional pain. When I finally comforted her enough to find out why she had fallen into a puddle as soon as she walked in the door, I couldn't help but be surprised at her answer. She had perfect grades again--almost--but one 2.75 (our grading scale is from 1-3, 3 being the highest you can get--mastery) glared at us from the page like a child sticking his tongue out as if to say, "Ha! Ha! You didn't do it. Nanana boo boo!"
I searched for words of comfort but really couldn't come up with anything great. She had worked hard and been on top of everything. She had even talked with her teachers to make sure everything was under control, and they assured her it was. So, how could this be possible? The worst part is that her father and I had already planned to make her perfect grades all year a wonderful "event" that would help her understand how much we supported her efforts and how proud we were of her. We were going to take her to the Olive Garden for a very rare dinner experience out. We were all excited about it, including Hallee. Until now.
What to do. I panicked inside, I tell you. Should we still offer the same reward, even though she didn't quite hit the mark? Should we tell her, "Better luck next time, but you didn't quite accomplish the goal, so we can't go out now?" My mind hastily explored my options as I awaited the dreaded question I knew would come, "Mom, does this mean we can't go out?"
Man, parenthood is tough sometimes! I have been thinking about this a lot lately. As a parent, it seems vital to know when to be tough, to stick to your guns, to allow nothing less than what is required, and when to hold your child in your arms and offer support, acceptance and love, even when he or she hasn't quite hit the mark. There have been so many times over the years when I have been determined to follow through exactly, to be consistent, to show "tough love" when it was necessary, and then a moment has occurred when I looked into my child's eyes and knew that what he or she needed more at that moment was understanding, forgiveness, release from the pressure and of course love. Was this one of those moments?
I looked into her beautiful, heart-broken blue eyes and knew it was. "Of course we will still go out, honey. You've been a remarkable student this year, and you deserve it." I wrapped my arms around her and remembered once again why I loved this girl so much.
Here are a couple of pictures of our experience. Dan and I wanted it to be meaningful, so we all dressed up for the event. I made a special invitation and left it by her bedside table, writing in my best calligraphy (lol!). Nate volunteered (or maybe it was that we volunteered him) to watch the younger children so we could go, and off we went. I had been suffering from a migraine all day and wondered if I could manage the event, but knowing how much Hallee was looking forward to it, I donned my most comfortable dress (one I seldom wear due to the fact it makes me look pregnant) and tried as hard as I could to soak up the moment.
|Ha! I look taller than her in this picture due to my shoe choice:)|
Hallee loved every minute! Especially since she got to eat steak (steak--I didn't even know the Olive Garden served that), her favorite. I was so glad we took her. I was so glad I had listened to that overriding voice that told me to do it, even though she hadn't quite met her goal. And hopefully next time she will. I have all the confidence in the world in her.
Watch out, Junior High, here she comes!