I didn't do anything particularly outrageous as a teenager. I didn't develop any alarming habits, didn't bring home any unsavory boyfriends (in fact I was so wholesome I never did attract much of the unsavory sort.) I didn't stop washing my hair/start dyeing my hair, and I didn't even slam doors very often.
My music tastes run toward the pedestrian, despite the huge number of music geek friends who have introduced me to any number of esoteric artists. My home is attractive, but not remarkable. My clothes are....perfectly acceptable.
I was ready to be an ordinary parent. The kind who would drive to ballet lessons and soccer games, who would let kids have lollipops on occasion, who make sure that we all eat our 5 fruits and veggies a day, the kind who reminded kids to brush teeth and put their socks in the hamper. And I am all those things.
The night my first child arrived, however, I became acutely aware that I would have to be so much more than ordinary, for I had given birth to the most extraordinary being.
At 5 weeks early she was just a tiny slip of a thing: she fit into my two hands much as a brand new puppy would, and she fixed those two very dark brown eyes on me. I was immediately certain of two things: 1) this child had a deep, intuitive knowledge beyond anything I could come up with and 2) I now had proof of reincarnation. She is an old soul, one of the 'cloud of saints, above us and below us.'
Cecilie at 5 months
Every single day since then, she has confounded us, confused us, surprised us, astounded us. She began talking early - so early - and hasn't ever stopped. Her perspective on the world has a laser-sharp acuity, and she doesn't miss a blessed detail. She is funny - so funny - with a quirky sense of humor that always arrives at a slightly oblique angle. She is articulate, and brave, and responsible, and quixotic.
She comes by these qualities almost in spite of me: at every turn, when I try and guide her to the conventional, she shows me the extraordinary. When I struggle with decisions about her future, invariably she knows the path to choose, and guides me towards it.
She exhausts me: if ever you felt you were gaining in confidence as a parent, a child like this will regularly demonstrate that you have so very much more to learn. If ever you felt that all that was required was to stand firm, a child like this presents you with endless logic that finally convinces you that your resistance is futile.
I read the poem that I posted last night with new eyes, realizing that it absolutely can be read as the claims of a lover to his beloved. But perhaps we can look at it as the child petitioning the parent:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
I pray daily for the ability to tread softly. To see her gifts for all that they are, and to tread softly enough to let her grow.
I am an ordinary person and I have been called to the realm of the extraordinary.