Kalista is a middle schooler today. She was not one yesterday.
Yesterday she was a little girl. She believed her stuffed animals have feelings, ate Ring Pops while wearing them and lived for anything that had to do with me. Today, all of that starts to end.
It is reasonable to assume today is the day she will start being as self-conscious as an adult, perhaps more. Someone will pick on her; someone will judge her. She will do whatever it takes to avoid the embarrassment again.
She will see students nearing high school who want to mask their own insecurities with false confidence portrayed through dominating behavior. Some of this dominating behavior will be directed at her; her submissiveness will make her a target. She will grow up instantly as she experiences the ugliness of post-elementary school.
All with which I am armed to offer is the “focus on school” line. It’s terribly ineffective. I’m aware of that, so I remind her she’s beautiful. I remind her she’s smart, likeable and capable of great things. I treat her with humility and hope I’ve taught her how to forgive others and herself.
But the main thing is “you’re there to learn,” academically and socially.
Interestingly enough, she’s not the only one who’s here to learn. I’ve grown to see some of the least successful persons I know believe they know everything. The most successful tend to be those who never stopped being a student of life in general. There is always an opportunity to learn something, no matter how long a person has been doing it.
Humility. Being humble. Those are the most important traits in this life. These are traits for which dead persons are remembered – not professional success or possessions.
All of this is far more advanced than I wish to experience. Tonight I watched Kalob, 13 days from being 19 months old, remind me of Kalista at that age. Where has time gone? Have I squandered my one and only chance to make my only daughter everything she can be? Will she resent me for applying with Kalob what I learned through her? Will she be jealous of him?
I don’t know. I don’t know anything. And that is the terrifying, beautiful part about being a parent. That is why being a parent is the greatest thing we will ever be. It is the greatest thing I will ever be. It’s the greatest thing anyone could ever be, no matter how successful or unsuccessful, sporadic or traditional one’s path to adulthood may be.
It is our service to others that determines our success as humans that actually matters.