The other day while the boys were in their gymnastics class, I sat with my Bella to watch. She spent most of the time curled on my lap lisping childish comments about her brothers. But then a couple of girls on the sidelines caught her eye. They were playing together, running on a line, trying to jump like frogs, and spinning. Oh, the spinning. It was delightful.
“Mommy, can I ask those girls if I can play with them?” Bella asked.
I loved that she wanted to take that step. “Of course, honey.” I encouraged.
She stood and watched them a for a few more minutes. I could see the longing in her eyes. The ache. Finally she turned back toward me, tears filling her eyes, “But what if they say, ‘No’?”
I thought my heart was going to break in two and spill love all over that room. How can she be so much like me at such a young age?
While driving past the hospital the other day, Bella piped up, “That’s the hospital. That’s where you go to get better. Mommy, do you have to go to the hospital again? Will I have to go to the hospital? Mommy, I am scared to go to the hospital.”
While reading “Dumbo” to her yesterday, Bella cried when Dumbo’s mommy was put in the cage. “Mommy, I cry when you have to get put in your cage.” (Okay, no comments from the peanut gallery.) When I asked her what she meant, she said, “The hospital is your cage. I cry when you go there.”
She’s three. It just doesn’t seem right that a 3-year-old knows all that. Aren’t kids “supposed” to live in this safe bubble of fun and childish delights?
One Friday, I sat in mini-van row outside Asher’s school waiting to pick him up. Bear and Bella played in the front seat together next to me while we waited. Bella especially liked leaning out the window and watching all the big kids leaving the school. She recognized one of Asher’s friends, and waved and waved, “Hi Susie (not her real name)! Hi!” Susie waved excitedly. “Oh!” Bella cried, “Susie waved at me.” Her world was complete. Then Susie turned, looked at Bella, and said snarkily (is that even a word?), “I wasn’t waving at you. I was waving at my friend.” Bella was crushed. She bent her head on my lap and wailed.
It makes my heart hurt.
Kids can be so cruel. And I know my kids are not exempt. They will be cruel, too. They will crush others. And that makes my heart hurt, too.
It is hard to watch my littles grow and learn and hurt and fear. It is even harder to watch them take my characteristics. Characteristics that I don’t like in myself… fear of what others will think, fear of being accepted, easily hurt and feeling the pain etch itself into my heart to stay.
It’s a defining moment when you begin to see yourself in your child, and you realize the things they have in store for them. Part of me doesn’t want Bella to be like me and struggle with the things with which I struggle. But, you know, God doesn’t give us the wrong anything. He doesn’t give us the wrong parents, or the wrong job, or the wrong husband, or the wrong child or the wrong circumstances. He gives us exactly what is perfect for us.
Even the pain that she has suffered and will suffer in the future. It is in order to perfect His will in her life.
That doesn’t diminish the pain. But it helps me get through it.
And I pray it helps her work through it, too.