Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Why does sixth grade have to be so hard?

Every time I think my daughter has finally gotten this middle school thing down -- every time I'm lulled by the fact that she hasn't cried in a day or two and she's given me a smile and said I was right and it was no big deal -- something happens to put me on guard once more. This morning, she threw up again right before it was time to leave, and again showed no other signs of illness or flu, just of high anxiety. And again, I loaded her in the car right afterwards and delivered to school her anyway. She swore there was nothing really wrong, no teasing or dreadfully hard work or mean teachers or threatened consequences. She doesn't even know why she's feeling so nervous. But obviously, she is. And although I'm pretty sure I'm doing the right thing, that being overprotective and shielding her from all possibility of unpleasantness wouldn't be doing her any favors in the long run, it still breaks my heart.

The funny thing is, I'm spending all this time counseling her to stop worrying about everything and to just take every day as it comes and deal with problems when they occur and not before, and it's impossible for me to follow that advice myself, for either of my kids. I've always assumed that I inherited some sort of worry gene, since my mother was a world-class worrier who believed that if you could think of every possible bad thing that could happen and stew about it in advance, nothing bad would happen in actual fact. I figured I was genetically predisposed to this sort of thing, and that my daughter -- coming from different and hopefully less obsessive genetic stock -- would be immune; but now that I see her falling into the same stomach-churning patterns, I wonder if it's really more a matter of nurture than nature. Which means, as usual, it's all my fault. I'll be worrying on that one a while, you can bet.

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