Lessons from My Daughter

My dear Fluff, who began secondary school recently <gulp> (how old does that make me?) was given detention today. This is the same girl who won the Year 5 award for ‘Best Attitude to Learning’ and Year 6 award for ‘Exemplary Behaviour’. She accidentally lost her bag containing her homework on Friday (long story) but found it again this morning. It was a genuine mistake and she is only 11 years old. Today she told the relevant teacher and said teacher insisted she was lying and doled out a detention. “You’re lying to me and you lied to Mr. Smith.” The teacher said.

I asked Fluff, after she came home and told me of the exchange, if she would like me to write a note confirming that Fluff had indeed lost her bag over the weekend. “No,” she replied, shrugging, “I know I didn’t lie so it doesn’t matter. If someone wants to think I’m a liar that’s their problem.”

I was seriously taken aback by this. Speechless, in fact! I know if someone called me a liar I’d be fuming. I would have been mortified to have had even one detention at her age. It made me think, though, about where that fuming comes from and why it would make me feel that way. I do know that children who are sexually abused are often told ‘not to tell’ because they ‘will be called a liar’, and they fear ‘telling’ because to tell the terrible secret and have no one believe you would somehow make everything worse… (in a child’s mind, this makes sense). Also, during my first marriage I was called everything derogatory under the sun by the ex-husband, and because I ‘absorbed’ his emotions and had no sense of self I took all those things into myself. I believed I was worthless and stupid and lazy and ignorant and a thousand other things I’m too polite to repeat.

I don’t know what to make of this. When you’re still figuring out who you are at hurtling towards 40 over 30, part of recovery is figuring out what’s normal.  The trouble is, there’s no such thing as normal, so I just try to figure out who God wants me to be. It’s very liberating, actually. I am not tied to things most people of my age are. But some things still take me by surprise. Like my astonishing daughter. We must be doing something right to have a daughter like this, don’t you think?

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