She Doesn’t Need Me To Push Her Anymore by Peggy Bogaard-Lapp
My daughter is ten. Yesterday she was five. Last week she popped out of my body, beautiful and perfect and quiet. My heart hurts knowing that tomorrow she will be leaving me to go out into the world, without me, and live. This thought rolls around in my head, over and over, day after day. I cannot stop it from happening. For her entire life I have been the one to get, do, make, find, gather, create, provide, soothe. How can it not continue on as it always has? How will I survive?
I remember when she was about three, and Little People were her favorite to play with, and The Wiggles music DVD ran a continuous loop on the tv. I sat on the floor playing with her, silently wishing the phone would ring and pull me away. The monotony of playing with a toddler about did me in, and I wanted it to be over, for her to be older, so I wouldn’t have to suffer through another day. Now I want to rewind and go back to those days, to hug her and play, sing songs and do all the things she loved, even though I didn’t. The time has flown by – not to sound cliched but it is the only way to describe how fast time went by. The day to day routine is a trickster; it distracts you from seeing what is silently happening. Your baby is getting bigger, smarter, more beautiful, and ready to live without you.
Today I met twenty three five year olds, starting Kindergarten. Each one is a precious child of someone else. While they are at school, however, they are mine. I come to love them, care about them, know what they like and what makes them smile. This is my third year of working as a teacher aide – something that I thought I would never, ever do. Ever. But my life long experience of customer service seems to apply just perfectly in a room of 23 “customers” who all want me to help them. When I say things like, “Welcome to Kindergarten, my name is Mrs. Lapp. How may I help you?” I get a funny look, and then they smile and launch into a long story about what happened on recess, or, my favorite, hold up their foot to show me the loose shoelace, presumably to have me tie it. I tell them that I charge $1 to tie shoes (another funny look) and then they get the joke. Only one kid has matched me on that one, pulling out a pretend dollar from his pocket. That kid is going to be fun this year!
The fast pace of the school year is partly to blame for the “time flying by” feeling. From the minute we start school, which is in summer, to the day we finish next spring it’s rush rush rush. The day’s schedule is planned down to the minute, and there is so much learning to do during the seven hours they are in school. I myself am exhausted at the end of the day. In the go-go-go routine, it’s easy to miss the little things. Erica reminds me often about taking a minute to breathe. She has been very good about her homework, cleaning her room, and helping out with the dishes (it doesn’t hurt to have a little monetary incentive for doing her chores). When she is done, she heads outside to get on the tire swing and relax. She doesn’t need me to push her anymore. I watch her as she floats back and forth, spinning a bit, feeling the moment and the excitement of being off the ground. I feel the same way, but it’s not from the tire swing (I wish it would hold me!) but from the realization that she’s ten. She won’t be on that tire swing forever. One day, she will swing out, and not swing back. How will I survive?