Wednesday, May 19, 2004

gwynnie picked me flowers

I misjudged her. I pushed my seven-year-old daughter Gwynnie into an imagined corner, not the real one in which she found herself. The image I fabricated of her "at school" was all wrong. I figured, hellion she can be at home, she was the mean kid, the bossy kid who made trouble. I mean, that's the way she acts with her older brother and sister. I figured she probably actually got away with it when employing it with her peers. If she complained the girls were mean, I thought, "They were probably just responding to you!"

We went to Concord Point Lighthouse the other day for a field trip. After the kids took turns climbing up to the lantern, they played on the grassy park square in front of the lighthouse, running around, screaming, doing kid things. Not my daughter. Off by herself for the most part, she squatted down picking a small bouquet of white clover, buttercups and delicate blue cinquefoil-looking plant. I thought, "I wonder why she isn't playing with the other kids?"

Next stop, the park. The lunch boxes were opened, the merry-go-round spun, sand flew beneath school shoes. And Gwynnie played mostly on her own. The only girl who chose the plain jumper uniform ensemble that day, my daughter flew solo. She wasn't the mean one. She wasn't the bossy one. She was the loner.

"Does Gwynnie usually stay on the outskirts?" I asked her teacher. I love Gwynnie's teacher.

She nodded. "Yes, I'm afraid she does."


Continuing on, she told me, "There are some really mean first graders this year. I should have told her this, but I told her to just not play with them. To just leave them alone."

She didn't expostulate on just who "them" were. But it's the end of the year these days and does it matter now?

"Oh, no! That's fine. Gwynnie doesn't always respond like she should. It's hard to teach a seven-year-old to turn the other cheek. It's better for her not to even be in the situation if she doesn't have to be."

For the past three or four months Gwynnie hasn't wanted to go to school. I guess I know why now. Sometimes she speaks up and defends herself, but more than not, according to her teacher, she backs off, allows people to butt in front of her, to exclude her from the play yard games.

Honestly? There's a place inside me that is happy. My daughter's not the mean one! But another spot waggles its finger. "Shame on you, Lisa. Shame on you for misjudging her, for thinking so little of her."

I'm sorry, Gwynnie. I'm sorry I wasn't watching. Wasn't listening. And thank you.

Thank you for the flowers.


Blogger ragamuffin diva said...

I am never quite the mother that I wish I were, but I have found children capable of remarkable grace for mistaken moms. After all, she gave you flowers. Love covers a mulitude of sins. Remember that.

May 19, 2004 at 6:34 PM  
Blogger Becca said...

By the time I graduated from high school, I loved my mum like crazy. Gwynnie's starting early. :)

May 19, 2004 at 8:45 PM  

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