When my daughter was two and a half and just learning to articulate herself she would ask anyone “you healthy and happy?” My parents thought it so adorable she seemed concerned with the welfare of others at such a young age. One Christmas she went around the table and asked everyone in attendance if they were healthy and happy. She waited for each response before continuing to the next guest. Children are like mina birds at that age, repeating well used phrases they hear. For our children Mike and I did and do wish good health and an abundance of happiness that will shield them from the other ebb and flow that is the natural rhythm of life. I know they will experience their fair share of hurt and loss. Perhaps it’s natural parental ignorance to think a strong immune system and a goofy smile will shield them from the messiness and chaos of life.
I registered my oldest daughter for school the other day and could not believe the summer is almost over and another season will be upon us. I feel anticipation permeate my bones the way cold weather affects an arthritic body. Hope is my mantra at the beginning of this school year. The laundry list grows long as I reiterate to Anni what a great year she will have. I wish for her kindness that is reciprocal, a love for learning and retaining knowledge, friendship and giggles that comfort, the experience of failing and trying harder until you achieve.
The pressure to excel and perform is much greater than when I was young. Today school shootings are rampant in the media. Our youth have to discriminate moral consequences when they are least prepared to understand the ramifications. Kids are texting nude pictures of themselves and facebooking about one another without comprehending how fragile the child ego can be. Children are asked to complete achievement standards to advance a grade. Academic testing is administered as early as kindergarten.
I want Anni to be socially aware without robbing her of the innocence that should be a rite of passage as a little girl. I want Anni to work diligently without concern for measuring up to her peers. Are these expectations too grand or unrealistic I wonder. As I watched Anni this morning wiggling her first loose tooth in the mirror I silently hoped she would be engaged with the pleasures of childhood for a long time. She turned to me and smiled a big goofy grin and exclaimed “the tooth fairy is magic, right mom?”
After taking Anni home from the hospital as a newborn I was overcome with the nervous feeling of loving her so much I felt fearful. I wanted to protect her from the hurts I experienced and knew it would prove an impossible task. I can now articulate what I wanted for my daughter was trite, simple and pure. I wanted her to be happy and healthy. School is another imposing fear, we have to take our children from their protected environment and let other people stongly influence her. I hope she is surrounded by teachers and peers who believe in magic as my little Anni so honestly believes.