Monday, December 20, 2010

Looking Forward

I just bid a near-tearful morning good-bye to my lovely daughter, who is, probably for the first time in her young life, feeling a little overwhelmed by all that she needs to get done before Christmas break.  Just one more hoop we all jump through on our journey to the adult world, but it's the kind of thing that a parent would spare their child if they could, but never can.

It was very hard for me the first time I realized that I might not be able to do everything I was supposed to do within the time that I had.  I was not used to that kind of failure.  That first time that things don't come easily, when they always have before, or if they haven't, there was always somebody there to bail you out, is a rough slap in the face for some.  I know it was for me.

While I have never done her work for her -- and believe me, in my career as a reference librarian, I had more than my share of encounters with parents who were doing their kids' work for them, so I know that it happens -- I have made myself available to her at times as typist, editor, chauffeur, scut grunt, you name it.  Can't do that any more.  Not "won't" -- "CAN'T."

College applications have to be finished this week.  Only she can do that.  All her various holiday want-to's and need-to's must be finished before Thursday.  Again, only she can do those.  Not to mention all the various homework projects that need to be in before winter break, from English papers to computer animation projects.  I guess her teachers want to use the break to grade big projects.  (When I was in high school, they used the Christmas break to hit us with work; that appears no longer to be in vogue.)

I am always amazed at the depth of feeling I encounter when I run across these situations where I cannot take the pain of the life lesson away from her.  On some level I appreciate the fact that in order for the lesson to be effective it must be experienced personally.  But what parent has never inwardly wished they could trade places emotionally with their kids in order to take on their child's pain themselves?

Yeah, I know, there was a "Twilight Zone" or a Ray Bradbury parable about doing that, and it ended badly for all concerned.  I just hate the helpless feeling as I stand by, watching her grow up, and away.

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