Thursday, December 31, 2009

Relative Importance

Cody and Sidney, Christmas 2009

Last night, a mixture of rain and sleet slapped at the windows, but I heard above the racket the sound of her sobs. A mother's instincts are sharp, and as I strode toward Sidney's bedroom I heard the rational part of my mind reassuring my instinctual self that nothing truly threatening could have happened. Afterall, I'd just tucked Sidney's purple comforter under her chin and splattered her face with silly kisses a couple minutes before. Still, I made it down the hall in three strides.

When I got to Sid's room, her light had been turned back on. Cody was leaning over her in the bed, stroking her face and asking why she was crying. The look of concern in his eyes when he turned them on me made my soul smile. Growing up, I always wished I'd had an older brother, someone who would take care of me. I realized I'd been imagining Cody all those years ago.

I hugged my son and thanked him for being him, and sent him back to bed. By then, Sidney was on her feet, her head tilted slightly back, her body wracked with sobs. I took her in my arms and just hugged her, realizing I'd have to wait until she calmed down a little before I'd learn what the problem was. The rain pelted the windows at a faster pace, but Sidney's tears finally subsided.

It turned out that as part of the Gifted Program at school, Sidney was responsible for reading a 300-page book over Christmas Break. I remember her complaining about the story a couple weeks ago, which she described as boring. I guess the craziness of holiday activities and cram-packed schedules made both of us forget all about the reading assignment. Until last night.

I clicked off the light and followed Sid under the covers when she crawled back into bed. We worked out a plan to get as much of the book read between now and Jan. 5th when school resumes. We're going to partner read, her reading two pages silently, then I'll read aloud for the next two pages. Every couple minutes, Sidney's little face would scrunch up again and the tears would leak from her swollen eyes. She is a child devastated when she feels she hasn't done all that she expected of herself. We whispered in the dark through each meltdown relapse, promising ourselves to do better and remind each other of the project. Eventually I felt her body go limp and her breathing deepen.

I lay there a couple minutes longer, listening. The sound of Sidney's breath, the rain on the window, and the muffled noise of the television in the next room gave me an incredible feeling of childhood nostalgia. I used to lie in bed and dream about the future. The memories were so close; it seemed like just yesterday. And then I looked through the darkness at Sidney's angelic profile. Now for my future, I want to be more like my daughter. She cares so deeply about what's happening in her life. Her commitment to the present is absolute. She reminds me of how I can be a better me.

I should sign off here......we have a book to read.