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Inconvenient Stories

at her quietest…

I fought the steering wheel against the brazen wind. Gusts bent trees nearly into praying postures. My skin stung with the remnants of the breeze from the wide open plain of the soccer pitch. My phone had died, leaving me to navigate from memory our way back to the hotel, which was somewhere off I-40 East.

Beside me, the soccer player jabbered. She had played a tough set of games, and came out of the second one after getting brained with a cleat. Mama bear reared up seeking justice—and an ice pack.

I gripped the wheel and fought through my foggy head, retracing our route. She said, “I don’t know how to do what I want to do. I mean. I’m not sure how to decide. I sometimes do things I don’t want to do. And then I don’t do things I want to do.”

We talked about the Apostle Paul, while I veered into lanes, hoping I could trust my memory. She said, “I just want to be a kid. I’m only 12. But I want to be serious about soccer. And school.”

I found one of the sixteen junctions I had traveled and offered a silent prayer of thanks.

She said, “I don’t want to be cool if it is the kind of cool that’s mean. I know a lot of people like that.”

We talked about what cool means, and how growing up is hard. And how there is always a new growing up to do. She worried she was running out of time. She said, “I only have five more years.”

I told her then she’ll have four years to figure out college stuff. Then a decade to figure out her 20s. Then her 30s and then her 40s.

“It’s scary.” She said, with gravity and truth.

“Yeah. It’s scary. It’s also fun. For all the stuff I’ve waded through, I’d not change a thing.” I told her.

Do my words fall on thorny ground? Is she a fertile field? Or are my words the stuff the birds can’t carry away?

I was distracted. I was worried. I was trying to listen, to really hear what she was saying. I heard wisdom in her mouth. I heard grace in her heart. I felt strength in the grasp of her fingers in mine, as we had reached the hotel. She said, “Will you hold my hand?”

As long as she’ll let me.

15 Comment

  1. Awww, what a story to warm my heart. We’ve all been there. The distractions, you wonder if you are doing this parenting thing right. The fact that she’s wrestling with these issues & throwing the questions out means that you are. My almost 15 & almost 11 year old throw me curve balls all the time too. Sometimes I’m in awe of the answers & suggestions that come out of my mouth. I’m a rockstar. Othertimes, I’m completely at a loss for words. Keep on keeping on. You’re doing great!

  2. Oh, this made me cry. What a sweet story. By the way, you can tell her that I assumed that being thirty would mean I had stuff figured out. This is so far from the truth it’s not even funny.

  3. SO lovely, Jen. As long as she’ll let you is exactly right. Because soon enough, it simply won’t occur to her. And then soon after that, there will be someone else to hold her hand. Things change – it’s the way of life. So it’s good to savor what is while it is.

    1. It’s funny how we don’t often hear the words under the words, and how perceptive kids can be. Of course, I think she’s pretty special, but I bet most kids, if given the platform, could expound for a while. 🙂

  4. Oh gosh and those 5 years go SO fast. Big thoughts for a 12 year old. Keep that dialogue going. You’ll never regret it.

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