Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Miss Independent

My daughter is starting to call my bluff.

She's always been a particularly fearful girl, and I've always been the one encouraging her to transcend her fears and try new things. Sometimes the new things are non-negotiable -- she had to leave elementary school and go on to middle school whether it terrified her or not -- and some things might be -- she doesn't really have to play in the school band or go to camp, although I may make it seem that way. Since she's been the one worrying and hesitating and panicking, I've been the one reasoning and pushing and comforting. I haven't wanted her to limit herself, or turn down opportunities she's gained through her hard work and conscientiousness. I haven't wanted her to miss important experiences. And things have always turned out well for her -- she's almost always been glad she did them. That's made me pretty secure in my strategy.

So yesterday, when she came home with a notice about a band trip that involved a long bus ride to another state and a day at a theme park, I was all ready to talk her into it. I was sure she'd be nervous about being so far away from home without me, and going around to rides and amusements without any kids that she knew well along. I'll be a chaperone, I was going to tell her; I'll make sure the director assigns you a buddy; we'll talk through every problem moment and figure out what you'll do. But she was way ahead of me -- she was excited about going. She thought it sounded like a wonderful day. And as for me chaperoning, she would just as soon I didn't. She thought she was ready to try this alone.

And that's an enormous breakthrough for her. It's an amazing step forward, and I'm proud as can be. Except ... now I'm not so sure she's ready to try this alone. I can think of a million scary things that could go wrong. How can I let her go through this without me? I'm worrying and hesitating and panicking. But better me than her.

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