Here is my perpetual challenge: I pick Cowgirl up from school and we talk about her day as we drive home. Okay, so it is more me interrogating her to find out what went on and how she is doing. The basic attack is: Who did you eat lunch with? What did you do on the playground? Who did you work with? What did you enjoy doing today? And I am pretty good at teasing out the details from what little crumbs she offers me. I know how to angle about an issue to flesh out the story.
The part that kills me - I mean cripples me at my core - is when she tells me "no one would play with me." Not that she says this often, but when she does I am immediately thrust backwards in time to my childhood which was not all Laura Ingalls Wilder happiness and sunshine (okay, I know I am forgetting the Long Hard Winter and Mary's blindness, but you know what I mean.) I was a fat, chicklet-toothed, frizzy-haired, freckled and painfully shy kid. At least, that is how I remember it and it felt hard and lonely.
So I have to catch myself from over reacting when Cowgirl seems woeful about playing by herself. I mean, she is far from shy, very headstrong, and a social butterfly of a gal. We talk a lot about being bossy and not giving others a turn to choose what they want to do, which I suspect is what happens when she tells me no one would play with her. No one will play what she wants to play or the flip side which is she won't do what they want and so they find another partner.
I try to be neutral and not over react (oh, how terrible! how mean! Who are they?!) and I try to get the details so I can help her gain a larger perspective (sometimes the things we want to do are best done by ourselves ... we can work alone but that doesn't mean we are lonely) but still the doubts creep in. What if people are shunning her? (No overreaction there!) I mean, she is a tad domineering in a cute little female Napolean sort of way, but others might not feel the same.
And ultimately, all I can do is listen and try to help her puzzle out possible solutions. I know from my practice and experience that to try and fix everything for her would be to rob her of the chance to come to understand and claim her power. The lessons are for her learn; the victories and struggles, hers to experience. Oh yeah, I believe in karma and that we all came into this life with some major stuff we need to figure out. If we don't get to the task, well, back we come! Or at the very least, we struggle with the same issues for our lifetime. I know I cannot prevent her from experiencing the pain that childhood and growing up must hold, but how do I hold my projections in check?
I am reminded of a story about a farmer accusing god of not being good at farming and god granting the farmer one year to call all the shots. So the farmer orders plenty of sunshine, gentle rains, temperate conditions and by harvest has a full field of wheat. But when he goes to harvest the grain, he finds the husks empty. The moral of the story being a little struggle is a must in order to give meaning and value to our happiness or joy. What causes us pain now, may provide us with a greater strength than we might otherwise seek out or know if we had total control.
So I will blunder on. And maybe I am not so worried about my child as much as I worry about myself. How do I cope with sending this tender and vulnerable shoot out into the world, knowing hurt, sadness, pain and loss are part of the process? How do I keep myself from running after her, ready to leap in the path of any perceived threat? What chapter in the "Everything You Need to Know About Your Preschooler" covers this topic?