“She’s her own bird, isn’t she?”
I nod, because I have learned that this is the path of least resistance.
She is crawling on the floor in a pink tutu, black tights and 3-sizes-too-big sneakers. Her hair is knotted in the back from yesterday’s ponytail and I can feel my eyes getting hot.
“Kate, come on hon. Let’s get going.” I turn away from her because I don’t want her to see my face getting red.
She makes a meowing noise and drags herself across the grocery store aisle to me.
I am tempted to tell the woman that she isn’t really her own bird, but rather her own cat. I decide she wouldn’t think it was funny.
I don’t really even know why I’m crying except to say that this was the tipping point in a hard week.
There’s something about this girl that inspires me, pushes me, melts me, and also…puts me right over the edge.
My dad says she’s just like me, actually. And I believe it’s true.
I decide to consult some books because I think they might have the answer that the $200 an hour doctors will and this way I can save time and money. The books say I need to practice breathing with her because she is a child who is prone to outbursts. I cut food dye, sugar, dairy, white flour, and anything outside of air and cardboard. I see some small changes but nothing that makes me feel like we are making great progress.
One day I read a chapter on helping kids who have problems controlling emotion and it says to teach them to squeeze their fists together as tightly as they can and then let go. It says they will feel relaxed and will be able to stop being so frustrated.
I talk to Kate about it and we practice. I tell her to imagine she is playing with her sisters and they won’t let her have the Barbie that still has all her limbs. I ask how that makes her feel and she says, “angry.”
I am tempted to tell her that I would be angry too, but I need to teach her about the fists.
I do, and she squeezes. She lets go.
“Do you feel better?” I ask.
She nods yes, but it was just a practice round so I’m not convinced.
Later that day we are at a friends house and I see her across the yard from the other kids. She is sitting on the wet grass with her eyes closed. After a moment I realize that she is squeezing her fists and crying quietly. I go to her, sit by her, whisper to her…
“Why, baby? Why are you crying?”
She is sweaty and has patches of green from the grass on her new shorts.
“I don’t want to be the one, momma.” She is looking faraway now and I don’t know how to reach her.
“Which one, Kate?”
“The one who has the hands that squeeze.”
I lose it. Sobbing, hugging, angry at myself, I realize that for months I have been reading, mulling, wondering, and all of it was because I don’t want her to be made fun of or left out.
I have asked her to be a fist-maker instead of a cat, and in doing so I have stolen a little of her voice.
I repent of the parts that were selfish. The parts that wanted hairbows and harmony and two legs walking in the store instead of paws.
Because the truth is, I love the paws. I always have.
I love her determination, her imagination, and the way she talks to herself when she thinks nobody is listening.
I don’t want her to be a wild child who is disrespectful, rude, or hurtful. I care about the way she speaks to me and others, and I will pick my battles when it comes to certain behaviors that I believe are wrong. But I can focus on those without getting off track and thinking I need to make her look like everyone else.
I have been guilty of this before, so I wanted to take this chance to apologize.
Not so much because I made that choice, because that is between me, her and the Lord.
Rather, I’m sorry if the kitty noises distract you from your shopping.
But I want her to remember me as the one who loved her for exactly who she was.
And right this minute, that means another load of laundry and grace as wide as aisle 6.
I love you, Katie-cat.
By: Angie Smith, Bring the RainLeave a Comment