Thursday, July 16, 2009
Last night Zaya said, “Mom, I don't want to ever fly a kite again, because it might fly away.”
He said this with tears barely restrained and his voice cracking a bit, as if we were discussing something truly terrifying, like tornadoes or spiders or newborn babies. (Hey, we're all afraid of something.)
“Zaya, sometimes kites do fly away, but most of the time they don't. You can't give up the joy of flying the kite just because you're worried it might fly away.”
How's that for hypocritical parenting? At that moment Daddy came in, so he took over the discussion from there and I went to snuggle with Miss I-want-a-drink-I-need-to-pee-where-is-my-bunny.
I couldn't get that little shaky voice out of my head though, “...because it might fly away.” We haven't flown a kite in months. We haven't even talked about flying a kite recently. As far as I know, we haven't even looked at a picture of a kite! And yes, last time we flew kites with a friend, the strings broke, and they flew away. We found ours, but our neighbor Carl never could find his. Has that been eating at my tiny man in shorts and t-shirt for all this time?
And the next thing I thought was, “That is me! My son is channeling the fears of his mother in five-year-old form.” I can be so fearful, and I worry about things that will likely never happen, but 'what-if'... I don't want to fly somewhere in an airplane, because what if...I don't want to leave my kids and drive with my husband somewhere, because what if...I don't want my little ones to go to school, because, what if...I don't want to make a parenting mistake, because what if...
And the big one I'm wrestling with right now...I don't want to start writing and sending in articles to places, because what if... What if I'm boring, what if I'm rejected...and more frightening still, what if I'm accepted, and then critiqued. And what if the criticism is bad, but right!
All of those things are more likely to happen than the kite breaking off its string, and as we've seen, that has a fairly good chance. Am I going to lose the joy of writing, and maybe, someday, in the distant future, being published, because I'm too afraid of the pain of watching my particular kite fly away? Some days the answer is yes, and some days it's no. Who am I kidding? Some seconds it's yes, and some seconds it's no.
I had to realize, though, that neither Zaya nor I could just sit back and watch the world whirl around us, because we're too afraid that stepping out into it might cause us pain.
My sweet cousin-aunt is currently going through a terrible time in the hospital watching one of her precious daughters hurting and miserable after a car wreck. They wait for surgeries, wait for the doctors, and pray and pray for healing, peace, comfort, and probably answers too. But if you asked C'J whether it was worth having her little twin girls, even knowing that one of them would someday experience pain, I'm sure she would say, "Yes, even now, the joy was worth the pain." And what part of rejection or criticism could possibly compare with that?
After Zaya was finally asleep, Art told me he had tried to comfort the little guy by promising that we would buy him a new kite if something ever happened to the little one we have now. But the same teary little voice said, “Daddy, I don't want you to have to spend all your money.” Now that's a whole different set of fears, and I don't think my psyche is prepared to deal with those yet. I'll file it away in the Mommy file for future contemplation.