Wednesday, November 23, 2011
A little less to worry about
Since Adam is working late tonight, I made the trip to pick Shylee up by myself today. After a brief conversation with her mom, Shylee and I walked back to the car hand-in-hand. As I pulled away from the little convenience store that has become our designated trade-off location, I looked at Shylee in the rearview mirror. It was a familiar scene: Shylee excitedly squirming in her seat, a giant mischievous grin plastered on her face.
Just a few miles into our trip I'd already heard about the Thanksgiving stories her teacher told the class, what foods the school served for lunch this week, her friend who has the "most beautiful dress", and another friend named Lincoln whose older brother is apparently kind of mean to the younger kids.
I'm used to this kind of thing; there's never a moment of silence when Shylee's in the car. I was nodding and saying "uh-huh" in all the appropriate places, but I have to admit that I was only kind of listening until she said something that really caught my attention.
"I don't think Lincoln's brother is really mean," she said. "I think that maybe he's just sad. Sometimes when people are sad it makes them be mean."
"That's very true," I said, surprised by her insight.
"So I like to ask what's going on, and then they tell me why they're sad. Mean kids need friends too, you know. So I like to be nice to them."
At this point, I was thoroughly impressed. "Shylee, that's a very nice thing to do. Where did you learn that?"
"From my mom and dad... and you, Jenny-mom."
I was suddenly all choked up. I wiped the tear off my cheek before I turned to tell her how special she is and how proud it makes me to hear that she's such a good friend. "That really means a lot," I told her.
The truth is, what she said means more to me than she'll ever know.
I worry about Shylee almost constantly. I worry that despite our best efforts this whole "split custody/having two families" thing will have a negative impact on her. I worry at times that we aren't doing right by her. I worry about her self-confidence. I worry that she'll be resentful. I worry that we could and should be better parents to her. I just worry.
But when she says things like she did tonight, I feel like just a little bit of that worry is taken away. Even more than the fact that she is becoming a very sweet little lady, it means that despite the trials and hurdles we've had to overcome in our effort to be a family, we (Adam and I, as well as Shylee's mother) must be doing something right.