I think I may need to stop reading blogs for a while. And stop watching the news. And stop talking to anyone. Mmmkay? I’ll be here in my cave if you need me, but only if you have something nice to say.
The world is a stupid, scary place these days. I feel guilty for having brought more people into it.
Which is why I am going to purposefully ignore any of the myriad happenings I’d really LIKE to point to and say, “Oh! Look! Crazy people!” and instead tell you about how your daughters may, in fact, be lovely, but I got the very best one even though she often goes deep undercover as the world’s most difficult child.
At the family reunion this summer, the kids met countless relatives they’ve never seen before. My aunt—who is both heavily into genealogy and has two sons but really should’ve been blessed with at least one daughter—took quite a shine to Chickadee. This is wonderful, except that we live about 5,000 miles apart. Not one to be daunted by silly issues like reunions every fifteen years whether we need them or not, my aunt proposed that they become penpals. Chickadee enthusiastically agreed.
I forgot about it immediately, of course. If it had been up to me to coordinate, it would’ve been another fifteen years.
My aunt has been writing to Chickadee and Chickadee has been writing back. She sits herself down just as soon as a letter arrives and reads it to herself with a small grin on her face. Then (if I ask nicely), she’ll allow me to read it while she arranges whatever she needs for her reply. Colored pencils and ballpoint pens (she likes to have an extra on hand) are her tools of choice. Then all is quiet for a bit, save for the sound of her earnest utensils on paper.
“I just need to put this in the mailbox!” she announces, and she’s got her shoes on and is out the door before I can remind her to put the flag up.
“She doesn’t know very much about Tae Kwon Do,” she confided to me, after the last missive. “I had to explain all the belts. And there are a LOT of them.” I have a sneaking suspicion that entire letter may have been a laundry list of belt colors. No matter; each correspondence is tended to with the utmost of concentration and pride. My aunt has unwittingly given a marvelous gift to my daughter; the distance renders her glamorous and the interest in Chickadee’s daily life from this exotic source has sparked a quiet confidence in her.
This morning I had a conference with Chickadee’s teacher, and for the first time ever, there were no “but”s. She spoke of her math aptitude, her insistence on learning and using cursive RIGHT NOW, her devouring of books, her helpfulness with others in the class. I waited for the other shoe to drop. And it never did.
“But…?” I asked. The teacher looked confused. “So, where is she lacking?” I clarified.
“I really can’t think of a single negative. She’s a joy to have in class.” I gaped at her while she took out some quiz papers to share. “Did you know that she’s… well… she’s really quite bright,” she added.
I laughed. What else could I do?
She doesn’t know that Chickadee leaves messes everywhere and breaks things and loses things and mouths off and argues—oh, the arguing!—and sometimes takes out her frustrations on her brother, but that just in the last year or so she has started to blossom into a person effortlessly wise beyond her years, rather than one uncomfortably wedged between her big brain and her rampant emotions.
I’m not naive enough to think that this spate of smooth sailing is the final chapter. But for now, it’s enough.
Sure, I can obsess about the crazy people. Or I can look at what is real and right and joyful here in front of me. Even if it does forget to screw the top all the way back onto the thermos and now totes a backpack that smells of chicken soup.
Besides which: the crazy people? Don’t tell nearly as many good jokes as she does.