I have a pre-tween daughter, Leah, who is exercising her independence these days. She tests me with her words, and she certainly challenges authority. She’s still a little girl, yet she knows that bigger things are just around the corner. To provide her with some much-requested liberation, I don’t meet her at the bus stop anymore, and she doesn’t have a great desire to hang out with me if there are other — better — options around.
I know it’s all part of growing up. It’s bittersweet to see; alas, all parents and children go through it.
But there are moments when I realize she still needs me — wants me, even. She won’t tell me so, but it shows up in other ways. When there’s something going on at school — should I be there to watch? Or stay away as to not embarrass her?
Luckily, I also have a younger daughter, Ava, who wants me there as much as possible. I enjoy that, even though going to school so often gets cumbersome at times. But I go when I am able, and I’m always glad that I did. She is, too.
The latest opportunity for me to go to school and enjoy seeing both of my daughters was just before Chinese New Year — the annual school parade and temple fair festivities. I waffled between attending both morning and afternoon events or just choosing one; after all, I had holiday packing to do and plenty to keep myself busy. After much pleading and some guilt-inducing by my youngest, I decided to go to both events, even though my oldest "didn’t really care."
Well, one look through the parade ensemble, where Leah was in costume and "performing," I knew I made the right decision. She didn’t want to show any excitement about seeing me there, of course, but she did notice that I came, and she gave me a smile that indicated it was what she wanted all along. I saw both girls in their moment, and I got to enjoy it with them.
As parents, we get so very busy with life — work, house management, our own education, social lives — it’s easy to not want to be bothered with the numerous and sometimes menial school events we’re invited to attend. But kids grow up way too fast, we all know that. Even if they tell you they don’t want you there, that it doesn’t matter if you come, it does. One small smile from Leah told me so. No matter what the attitude about staying away or being more of an embarrassment than a support to her, Leah wanted me there. So I was, and I’m glad of it.
Make the choice: Be there.