Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Different Kind of Daughter

I wrote a short story once in which the narrator said of her mother, "She was ready for a different kind of daughter, I think."

That line came back to haunt me this week.

We regularly paint our nails together, and she likes to bake and cook with me, but she mumbles when she speaks in public, would happily play nurse to someone else's doctor, and loves math more than any other subject. A few years ago, we were at the Nutcracker. Right before the curtain fell on the first act, snow began to fall from the sky and onto the stage. I was sitting there, enraptured, filled with wonder, and my daughter turned to me and whispered, "That is so fake."

One of my big parenting goals is to help my children be the best them they can be. To give up on my own plans for them, and help them be themselves.

But this week, the note came home from school that there would be a Pioneer Day and the children could dress up as pioneer children and they would play pioneer games. I love pioneers. I love dressing up. I got excited.

"I'll braid your hair," I said. "Do we still have the sunbonnets? Maybe we can borrow a dress."
"I'm going as a pioneer boy," she said.

I tried hard to persuade her, but to no avail. So, I gave up and helped her find suspenders, plaid shirt, work pants and straw hat.

And then, her brother needed the straw hat to be a slave in a play at school. We found two straw hats. Only one would fit her brother, but she refused to wear the other one, even though it actually looked better on her.

"I'm not going to dress up," she announced and she stuck to her resolution, going to school in jeans and a sweatshirt.

I was frustrated. I let her be her nearly all the time. I work with who she is. Just this once, I thought, can't she just play along? Just bring the clothes in case she changes her mind? But no.

Last night, I was getting ready for bed, when I suddenly thought about being God's daughter, and I wondered how often I thwart the plans of my Father, when I refuse to play along, when I set my jaw and say no.

I wonder if God is ready for a different kind of daughter.

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