Oh my goodness...why is this so difficult? I approached 2014 resolved to combine my hair styling entries with something of substance to most certainly myself and possibly someone else who might stumble this way. Well, having resolved to begin this, here we are on January 8th and I'm already--or maybe I should say 'only'--a week behind. However, having just now sat down to do this thing, I can truly say that I am already benefiting from my resolution to look around me and give tribute to those who inspire me in their quiet and un-flashy ways. By consciously resolving to 'find' someone each week to recognize--even if it is just to this audience of one (me)...I am seeing quiet greatness all around me. And naturally, these people have not just popped into my life. They've been there all along, just doing their deal, and only now I am seeing things as I have never seen them before. Cool.
I want to start close to home by recognizing my 7th grade daughter Molly (all names now and hereafter will be changed to protect those who would otherwise be embarrassed by any notice). Molly deserves a badge of courage just simply by way of having survived unscathed by the seventh grade. I mean, seriously, when I think back on the seventh grade, my hands get clammy and I am immediately brought to that moment when I couldn't find any friend close enough to commit to become my locker partner. Ugh.
And here she is, this Molly girl, actually enjoying it. I figured she must just be made of stronger stuff than her mother was as a 13-year-old, or maybe that middle school had been easier on her than it was on me, until she started sharing some experiences she'd recently had. We were driving warm meals around to some shut-ins on Christmas Day (yeah! for the good people at Salvation Army who gave us this AWESOME opportunity!) and Molly--seemingly out of the blue--cheerfully told us a handful of things that other kids had said to her over the past few months. These are not nice things. These things made me want to ask her for the name of that rude girl in her gym class (among others) so that I could go do what every mom wants to do when her vulnerable daughter is verbally assaulted by another not blessed with a kindness filter. Anyhow, as I listened, it became clear to me by Molly's way of sharing these stories that though painful enough to remember--they were not personally defining moments to her. The more she shared in a way that expressed her 'I'm okay-ness', the more I was able to be okay too.
In the end, we all laughed and congratulated Molly on her courage in having to share a world with a few--or might I suggest a whole bunch of--awkward, insecure, and filter-less adolescents who sometimes choose hurting others as their way of play. I pay tribute to her because she did not see herself as a victim, but rather as a player in a play who could easily step outside of the role 'seventh grade girl' and slip comfortably into something far more comfortable...'daughter, sister, friend, helper, musician, child of God'...all places of relating that are safe and kind, and all places where I hope that she finds complete and total acceptance and warmth. These safe identities don't change with time and enable those 'mean kid' comments of middle school to slip down to the place where they really belong...under the boots and into the slushy snow of a Christmas afternoon family service project.