Embracing ChangeAugust 27th, 2012 | Posted by in Parenting
Change is the only constant.
That little truism guides me, and has for most of my adult life. It’s a focus on faith and adventure I accepted only after hard knocks and something I work hard to pass on to my daughter, hoping she’ll “get it” at a far younger age than I ever did.
Now, I don’t expect my 8-year-old to fully adopt my fervent embrace of such a seemingly unappealing personal philosophy right now. At 8, after all, nothing is supposed to change.
But this month, a lot did: My 3rd grader became the New Girl. The New Girl, after five years at a beloved school where she has friends to whom she has pledged undying love and forever sisterhood.
We have spent several months preparing her for the transition and we’ve mostly been coming up against arguments such as: “If I don’t like it, you can’t make me stay” and “You made this decision without me. Why did you do that?”
And my favorite, overhearing a friend tell her: “You are stubborn, just tell your parents you are not going!”
And she did. A lot.
We countered with We know this is tough, but …. “You make friends easily!”; “You will get to be in plays!”; “We promise to help you keep ties with your best friends.”
We told her this change was a grand opportunity, a bigger platform. We shared our own childhood stories of the parental “betrayals” we survived. I told her about my own experience as the new 3rd grader, not just in a new school, but a new state.
But, the conversation was, truly, more about seeing change as opportunity, about going into something new with an open mind and not expending energy worrying ahead of time, because in the end the worry is usually for not.
And then, we were forced to expand on this theme to address my husband’s job loss three months ago. He was laid off from a place he had worked for three decades. Dad, too, would be confronting change and inviting opportunity.
“Is Daddy angry?” she asked.
“Yes, a bit,” I said. “But, he also is excited to see what else is out there for him. Maybe there’s something wonderful out there that he never even thought about because he never looked for it.”
(Ten weeks after he lost his job, my husband was hired to do something he is passionate and excited about. Not a bad way to teach your kid that unwelcome and unexpected change can bring good with it.)
As the summer drew to a close, Maria’s angst was tempered by growing excitement. She talked freely of the things she liked about the school and faculty. I spoke many silent “Hurrahs.”
She was calm and cheerful the first day. I’m the one who was quietly freaked out…
As I sat in my car at the end of the first day, I searched the crowd of kids for her, hoping I would be able to read the day’s experience on her face. Mostly, she looked hot. But, as she climbed in and buckled up she answered my “How was it?” with: “I had a great day! I loved it all!”
My heart swelled.
My “Embrace Change” message didn’t blow up in my face. Yet. And with luck — and maternal repetition — we will raise an adult who doesn’t quake at the unexpected and unknown, but embraces the mystery and potential of change.
Carrie Ferguson Weir writes about raising a bicultural daughter at Bilingual in the Boonies.