Cinder Blocks & Sweet Talk

30 Jul

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Allie begins 3rd grade on Monday. I’ve been trying to avoid the annual shedding of tears as she advances in grades. It never fails that I usually cry, because it really does feel like just yesterday she was a baby. It seems like such a cliche thing to say or hear, almost like a cop out that parents blurt when they are unable to really capture how it feels to see their children grow, but the reason people say it is that it is true. One days she was a tiny baby, and somewhere in the shift of time she became a walking, talking sass mouth that never fails to make me laugh.

When Allie was a baby I remember thinking another cliche thought, that I wished she came with a manual. I’m not really sure even now what a parenting manual would say. However, I feel that if it possessed real wisdom and not the scraps of common sense that you can find in the instruction of any baby product, it would document that the struggle of parenting transfers slowly from physical to emotional in a way that remains steady yet challenging as kids grow older.

In the beginning, it seems like the demand of parenting is largely physical. From carrying a child inside of your body to carrying them around in your arms for hours when they will not sleep, it’s pretty physical. The lack of sleep from nightly wake ups is similar, and while I am not denying that there is an emotional element, I don’t think it is comparable to the emotional pull as they age and the things that trouble them become more than needing their diaper changed.

Eventually, there is a time when the struggle is no longer carrying a sleeping child up a set of stairs or a random back ache from pulling a car seat from the back seat. Parenting an older child is difficult in a very emotional way. I think the aforementioned nonexistent, realistic parenting manual would tell you that there are no words to truly document the heartache of watching your child struggle with change, feeling left out, or hurt feelings. Watching your child in tears over an issue that you can not assist her in handling is heart wrenching in a way that lack of sleep can never touch. You could fill a car seat with cinder blocks and carry it five miles and the physical strain would never compare to the sadness of watching your child’s feelings crumble while dealing with something they find difficult.

Allie’s a pretty tough girl feelings wise, and she will conceal and refuse to reveal her true feelings in an effort to please people. And while I see how that could beneficial to some degree, it’s also sort of a bummer. I feel like she ends up acting like she is okay with things that she isn’t and then having a break down later and acting out in some of the strangest ways possible. The physical to emotional comparison with watching this is probably akin to waking with an infant every 30 minutes and then running a marathon in which your shoes are lined with razor blades. It’s painful, it stings, and you are just waiting for things to heal.

No matter how well you try to explain it, there are no real words to truly describe it and any attempt seems nearly useless. Hugs and reassurance seem to work for cheering her up,  yet the issues churning her emotions still weigh heavy on my mind.

The upside of it all is that she cheers up pretty easily after she falls. Which I guess is why she has currently wrapped her whole body in ace bandages while watching The Brady Bunch like it’s a new show on the DIsney Channel.

Maybe by the time 4th grade comes around a parenting manual will explain it all. Cross your fingers for me.

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