So Lola is a generally a happy silly little girl. She’s really come out of her shell in recent months. Whereas before she was content to play alone, or simply to observe from the sidelines, she now will run up to people with her smile wide and introduce herself, “I Lola!” while patting her chest. Her playmate of choice is usually whatever girl is wearing the frilliest dress. “I like your dress,” is the typical follow up remark I hear her say when her introduction goes unreturned. My heart swells to think of the games she’ll play and the scenarios she’ll concoct with her newfound playmate until I see her still alone and confused. I worry it’s her speech. A year of constant ear infections, followed by surgery to insert tubes left her speech a tad delayed. Her poor brain seems to go so much faster than her speech and she mumbles or stutters through phrases trying to catch up. I’m repeatedly told that she’s fine, that she’ll catch up, and that it’s worse in my own head than it really is. Adults seem to follow along just fine, but her peers aren’t as patient it seems.
And there she still is. Still without a playmate. And my heart breaks a little more.
I had hoped preschool would help. And I know we’re only two weeks in and I’m premature in my evaluation, but I’m feeling more worried than before. This vivacious little three year old who ran into the classroom so excited those first two days now stands alone near the window, head down, shoulders hunched, crying softly as I reluctantly walk toward my car. I’m the opposite of a helicopter parent and yet I find myself wanting desperately to stay. Me, who so looked forward to this day where I could drop her off for a few hours (Freedom!), is now dreading next Tuesday and the thought of leaving her. I’ve noticed other little girls already linked up and wonder what it is about my daughter that’s making her be left out. And then every hurt feeling and bad memory of my own youth rushes back and I feel like the worse parent for subjecting to the horror that is this Big World and more specifically the hell that can be little girls. (Teen girls will be worse, I know, but I can’t even go there yet.)
Is it me? Have I failed her in some way? Did I not prepare her properly for these social interactions? Was I too much of a loner myself to give her a proper example? Did I not seek out enough opportuniites for her to meet and play with other children? Should I have given in and bought that horrible “Hello Kitty” lunch box she wanted so she would fit in better with the four other little girls sporting similar merchandise?
I don’t know, but I can’t shake these worries. So I’m just putting it out there. Universe, please be kind to my girl, my baby. Please don’t crush that soaring little spirit. Please grant her at least one great friend. Help her grow into the confident, kind, intelligent, fun, creative person I see. And Universe, I’m not asking you to do it alone. I want to help. Please show me how I can be better. Show me when to stand back and when to intervene, when to let her fall and when to catch her. Show me how I might better teach and prepare her. Please show me…
I knew parenthood would be hard. Logically I knew it. But the hurt and heartbreak - while not entirely unexpected - is so much worse than I could have ever imagined.
And with that I’m signing off. Nose running, eyes puffy, but relieved to have gotten some of my concerns out of my head. And hopeful. Hopeful that the Universe will be kind to me, but more importantly, that it will be mindful of my oldest baby.