faith family listening parenting

A Tale of Two Sidewalks; Or What My Teenager Taught Me About Faith

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As I run north toward home at the end of my miles, I have to choose.

The sidewalk on the east side of the boulevard offers leafy shade, an extra lift to get me home. On those blistering summer days when the heat leaks into my head, throbs against my skull and makes me slower than day old dirt, which is very slow in case you don’t know, the promise of shade is a siren. When I cruise across the road and hit the shadows falling across the path, I am instantly faster, or so I tell myself. I can fill my lungs with oxygen of a slightly cooler temperature. The breeze urges me on toward home. It feels so good, my shoulders sag and relax, my legs stretch into long, beautiful strides, or so I tell myself. That’s how it feels.

Despite the promise of shade on the east, I prefer the sidewalk on the west side of the boulevard. Despite the lack of shadow, I press on up a slight incline, smacking my forehead against ungainly bushes that traipse over privacy fences into my path. More times than I can count, I’ve nearly missed being struck by cars whose drivers fly toward stop signs, ignoring that whole pedestrian possibility thing. I have raised my hands in disbelief and reproach at these ne’er do wells. Oh, yes I have.

Still, I like the west side.

The east sidewalk slants steeply into the street. It messes with my mojo—and my ankles. My old lady bones slip in my shoes and test the limits of my pain threshold. It’s like trying to run on a wall. Giant potholes dot the intersections, and these are filled with leaves and mud and icky puddles. I’m not averse to puddles; in fact, I kind of enjoy plunging through them. But the big ones, in those giant potholes, promise to snap my old lady bones; their deceptive depth wig me out.

***

Thirty sixth. Our daughter was number thirty six on a waiting list for the high school she wanted to attend ( a small public charter school). In February, when we got the news, we shrank into sadness. We all wanted that for her.

We did not wait well. We called the school and pestered them about waiting list movement. We talked to other parents. We thought about getting our hands on the waiting list and meeting some kids in the alley to hurry the process along…not really. Well. Kind of. And by we I mean me. I did this. I worried and worried and worried all through my waiting. What if she didn’t get in?

She took the philosophical approach. She said, “I’ll end up where I need to be.” Give her credit.

***

Some choices are easy. Left side or right side of the street. Get home in the sun or in the shade. Take the flat sidewalk or the skewed. Either way I get home. Some choices have no real significance.

Some choices aren’t ours to make. Her getting in was totally and completely out of our hands. And so we waited for the choice to be made. (And it was made, the day before school started.)

Her inherent trust in the process comforted me during my graceless waiting; I was humbled by her logical, rational, and somehow intuitive acceptance. Where I wanted control and known quantities, she was certain she would get what she needed. While she wanted to get into this school, she seemed to view it like my two sidewalks. In either scenario, she would still end up where she needed to be.

2 Comment

  1. I love how much we can learn from our kids, even if it is rather humbling. I also love that God gives us the freedom of many paths, and he’s always there to help us along, redeeming even the paths with their share of cons.

    1. You know, the more I pay attention in these early days of high school, the more I realize what a helicopter mom I was/am. And how much bigger and stronger and amazing she is than I allowed myself to believe. I am constantly humbled by this new (old) person in my house.

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