I often wonder if I am doing the right thing as a parent.
Daily I think to myself “did I do the right thing?” in regards to giving my daughters advice.
Gigi often comes home with stories of mean girls and bossy boys that she has encountered during her school day. I try to give her advice along the lines of “remember who you are, what you stand for, and don’t bend down to the mean kids.”
I want to raise strong, independent, mindful, helpful, loving, funny daughters.
Our oldest daughter, Zoe, is all of those things that I just wrote about.
She has overcome a lot and she, I believe, has a strong sense of who she is as a teenager.
She doesn’t bother with girl drama at school, she offers advice to her friends who get involved in such drama. She’s the unofficial leader of her little troupe of friends. I have heard them say as such when they are all together and I’m in earshot. She has a tight group of both male and female friends. She’s not really (I think) interested in boys as boyfriends yet. She knows that she doesn’t need to jump into the area of teen love yet.
But, her confidence is lagging at times. It really does baffle Man-Farmer and I when she comes home from school and tells us “Ms. H asked me if I wanted to be captain at the JV scholastic bowl game and I said no.”
We were with her at the last home girls volleyball game and she was doing double duty as a photographer for the yearbook and as a member of the pep band that was going to perform between the 7th and 8th grade games.
Man-Farmer and I had dropped her and her little sister off at the front door of the middle school and told them we would meet them inside after we parked the car.
When we got in we found them sitting in the middle of the stands and Zoe was starting to take some photos of the volleyball team warming up. I told her that she would get some better shots if she got closer.
“I’m fine right here.”
Man-Farmer and I just looked at one another and simultaneously sighed.
I pushed her...”get down to the first row and get some closer shots.”
And then she climbed back up to where we were sitting in the middle of the bleachers.
“Why don’t you go sit on the other side in the player seats for a few seconds to get some pictures of the girls on that side of the court.”
“No, I’m fine right here” she said again.
But, I made her go…“go over there now, you are here to get good pictures.”
She reluctantly got up and walked over to the other side of the gymnasium.
She uses a DSL camera that used to be my camera of choice and when she’s wearing it around her neck, she looks like a real-deal yearbook photographer.
The coach of the girls volleyball team is a teacher that has a special connection with Zoe. This teacher adores our daughter and I knew she would have zero problem with Zoe sitting over there while the team girls were practicing their lobbing and spikes.
She finally sidled her way into a chair and one of her classmates, who is on the team, said something to her. Something along the lines of “you taking pictures for yearbook?”
I saw Zoe smile and nod and get back to taking pictures.
She got some nice photos from that side of the gym.
And when she came back she was more talkative with me and said “will you take a few more pictures once the game begins because I have to go to the band room now.”
I did just that. And even took some photos of the pep band, with some close-ups of the girls in the percussion area because Zoe plays a mean bass drum.
I said to a few moms that were sitting around us in the bleachers, “I’ve gotta go take some pictures for the yearbook!” and we all had a good giggle about it.
We try to push Zoe out of her comfort zone when she’s feeling scared. When she’s feeling unsure. Because we know that there’s nothing to be afraid of. We know that the benefit outweighs her fear.
We have talked to her about the honor her scholastic bowl coach was giving to her when she asked her to be captain. We told her to always say YES when situations like that come up. To take on the challenge. To face her fears. To not get pushed into the backseat, but to instead take the wheel and drive forward.
We have been doing this with her since we became childhood cancer advocates. She has met Illinois State Legislators. A Governor of Illinois. She has been on television and has been interviewed countless times by newspaper reporters about childhood cancer and also about being at summer camp (she and her sister go to a kids cancer summer camp every year for a week at the end of June and every year a reporter from some newspaper in Central Illinois interviews her or takes her picture). She’s used to having attention on her.
She gets many awards at school and often has her name announced at events for her academic accolades.
Maybe it gets to be too much?
She seems confidant when performing a piano solo or tapping with her small tap dancing group at the yearly dance recital.
But, sometimes she holds back.
And we urge her forward.
And then my heart questions if I am doing the right thing.
At times we all need that extra little push to do something that makes us nervous, right?
We need to step out of the comfort we find on the edge of the scene we are looking at.
I understand that my daughters are not me.
I can be loud and bold and unflinching in my actions.
But, it has taken me 47 years to get here. My girls are just getting started in this game of life.
Just jumping into the fray, ready for battle.
I feel that we are more powerful as women if we fight the inner voices that tell us that we aren’t good enough, that we should stand back and let someone else take the reins.
I want my daughters to feel powerful. To feel that they are capable of anything set in front of them. And that if it doesn’t go as planned for them, that that’s okay.
At least they tried.
And Dad and I, we will always be their loudest cheerleaders.