When you find out you’re going to have a baby you imagine every detail about him or her. Whether you are parenting through birth or adoption, you imagine who they’ll look like, which traits they will inherit from you–or if they will branch out on their own and show you a whole different side of themselves that you and your spouse don’t even have. I assume that’s what it’s like for everyone; it was for me.
My first delivery was a long endeavor, and Miss Gracie took her very sweet time (and sixes seemed to be prominent in her entrance–almost thirty-six hours of labor, born on 06/06/1996, and fifteen minutes shy of 6:00 pm. I’ll just let you come to your own conclusions! 😉 ). When she was born, we got the details that new parents do–it’s a girl, she is this many pounds, she is this many inches, that’s a healthy cry. The only surprise at the time was that she had red hair. Both her father and I are blondes.
We were blessed to go through the normal growing stages with both of our daughters. They learned to roll over, crawl, scoot, walk, feed themselves, and play with others just as children should–all to prepare them for school and the social behaviors that go along with learning.
Here I will take a slight detour to give a brief synopsis of both Chris (my ex-husband) and me. We are outgoing. We are VERY outgoing. We are loud. We (think we) are funny. We presume ourselves to be the life of any and most parties. If there is a story to tell, we will fall out to tell it–usually with a lot of hand gestures and facial expressions. We’ll even fill in others’ voices, if we need to clarify what so-and-so said. This was how we raised our children. This is what our home life was.
Back to my eldest …
Grace lived happily her first five years in our home, though she was a little more quiet, more somber, and serious than Chris, Gretchie (other daughter), and me. She still shared stories, squealed, was loud and was funny. I come from a large family with lots of grandchildren and we had a close circle of friends with children our children’s ages. There were lots of “known” children to play with as she grew up. As the onset of school approached, we happily bought a backpack and school supplies. We proudly bought the approved school uniforms and pretty little shoes. A new lunch box and a supply of snacks? On it! We are ready for school.
The first day of school started great. We were in the afternoon class of kindergarten. We woke and had a yummy breakfast, had playtime with my daycare children, and got ready for school. And my pale little redhead got more pale. Then she turned green. Then she got sick all over her newly purchased school uniform and pretty little shoes. I stared at her. I tentatively asked if she was scared to start school. She cried. What? Think Julie, think! What is this? Think back to your first day of school.
I *clearly* remember marching right out to the school bus my first day of kindergarten, ready to take on the world in my pretty yellow dress with ruffles (it was the 70’s–I was hip). Where was my twin sister, Kathy? Y e a h . That’s right. Mom had to drive her to the school and walk her in. My twin sister was terrified to start school. Oh. Oh my. Do …. do we have a shy child? Quick! Try to remember. Yes, there are the memories–Gracie hiding behind her dad or me when we met new people, very quietly answering questions asked of her in her toddler years, not wanting anyone but Big Daddy or Mommy holding her. That’s right. Hmmm. Now what to do?
I looked at my child in a new light. Granted, I didn’t know what to do in this new light, but as any parent will attest, you adapt quickly. Instead of marching into the school and taking on this new world loudly and with great humor, we quietly walked in and met the teacher. We stood at the edge of the room and took in each and every detail of the room and how it was set up. The teacher (a true gift from Heaven!) stood so patiently and waited for Gracie to get acclimated. Then we three moved about the room to investigate. Then I stood and watched my baby girl take the teacher’s hand and step away from me to begin this glorious new adventure. Suddenly, I wanted my shy baby back.
I got that wish the next day when it was time for the second day of school. She definitely is one who takes a while to process change, but she made it.
My baby is now eighteen. She is still shy. She still resists change. But she has learned to take her time and process the next step in every situation. Okay, she stresses out THEN processes the next step. She doesn’t need to hold my hand anymore. Suddenly, I want my baby back.