Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Yesterday morning, Henry and I agreed to walk Abby into school, per her request. We'd made it from the minivan to the sidewalk when we stopped briefly to appreciate Henry's 217th fabulous piece of firewood. When I looked up to talk to Abby, she was gone. She'd walked herself into school. I found her in her hallway.

"Abby!", I called.
"What?", she replied.

("Heeeeellllllllllllllllllloooooooooooooooo?!?!?!?!?!?!?", I thought, "Why are we walking you into school, and why did I drag your brother out of his car seat, when you're walking yourself into school?")

But instead I said, "You asked us to walk you into school. Would you please walk with us?" She agreed. As we neared her classroom, with Henry and I trailing, I saw a group of her male classmates sitting in the hall awaiting entry to their room.

"Hey Abby!", one of them yelled.
"Watch this Abby, it's so silly!", another smiled.

Abby beamed and sat down to join the early morning festivities. "Goodbye, Abby..." I said. I got a distracted, "Bye Mom." and I started to depart.

Henry and I walked through the hallway to the exit. I was so glad she was happy and enjoying her friends. I was surprised, however, by the realization that hit next:

Abby is her own person.

An obvious epiphany but a poignant one
. She forges her own way, all day, through learnings both educational and transformative. What to say, what to wear, how to interact, how to translate the intricacies of elementary school life. Her acquisitions occur publicly but are private to her. I do not partake. We talk after school--I ask questions, she shares, we recap. But I am not physically present.

I watched the hoards of young kids filing through that school. My naive realization resonated within--young children, on their paths, defining their futures with each step. Each choice. Independent and autonomous.
With no parents in sight.

Abby is her own person.

Abby inherently understands this. Why don't I? Where have I been? Was a memo issued? "Abby does stuff by herself all the time now! She goes to school and makes decisions on her own!" My daughter is no longer merely an extension of me, of Hubby or our family. She, like all the other students I saw, is an individual, forging her own way each day.

I am simultaneously proud, dumbfounded and humbled.

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