Suddenly my Annie has burst into blossom. I mean she’d been working to get here for years. She’s moved from a curled-up girl frustrated about sounds and letters to this girl who sings and laughs and blows me wide apart with her thoughts.
I mean, she always has blown me wide apart. Don’t our kids just do that? There’s me racking my brain to figure out how to hold her as she began to learn what didn’t come easy. And there’s yesterday, when she asked me what mindfulness really meant. How she explained that when she was an adult she was going to have a Connect Club at a school and anyone who wants to join could join. And they’d talk about emotions and connect.
I mean, there isn’t much more to write than that, is there? When we’d go to tutoring at age 5, 6 and 7, she’d become frustrated enough to cry and make herself into a ball. I didn’t quite know what to do. Until I finally asked her for a code word that I could say to help her calm down. Baby bird, she answered. Ah, that was already our secret phrase, what I whispered to her to let her know I didn’t mind babying her even as the world seemed to want me to tell her to straighten up and thrive.
It wasn’t so simple. Of course. But I’d been watching her tutor, how she’d let Annie calm down (with my help) and then she’d ask her to start again, saying she wanted to tell her why her brain needed to learn this. Here’s why you need to know that “ght” is called “ghost” because only the t makes a sound. Years later, when I complimented the tutor’s patience, she replied, Oh, you are so patient with Annie. I told her I learned that from her.
That’s the dance, right? Connections that teach us what we really need to know. I can have the desire and little clue of which way to go. So I asked Annie and watched the tutor and I tried a million things until a few of them worked. But mostly we just connected over the hurt and hardness of the moment and knew we’d be there for each other. We’d be in the messy middle together.
The messy middle has slowly and all of a sudden unfolded into this girl of mine singing and joking and dancing her way through the days. During homework time, she tells me she needs to really learn the material. What does that really mean, she wants to know. She’s going to be a philosopher and a leader of an after-school group and her own version of a Taylor Swift or Pink or Daya or Ingrid Michaelson.
I know the messy middle will come for us again. In small and big ways. But I’ll take this blossoming moment and dance and sing and rejoice. Breaking into blossom rocks.