Monday, September 23, 2013


Welcome to fall. Did you feel the equinox? Even sides of the night. We're supposed to be balanced.

Just a month ago we were finishing our summer vacation at the beach. We went to the beach for about a week, after camp, before school, seeking some family time before the new stressors of new schedules came at us. All the calendar's an elusive fulcrum. The beach was wonderful

(even if G won't stick his bare feet in it).

After the beach, you find those little scratchy bits of sand irritating you everywhere. They chase you around, clinging and you have to address each one individually: new sneakers need breaking in. New teachers with new expectations. The exhaustion of a school day. It takes a while to wipe all that grit away.

In synagogue services last week, the mom of another little girl who also attends 2nd grade at our girls' school but in a different class sidled up to me and whispered an invitation, a hope from her daughter, a wish that E come over after services to their house to play. I bent down and repeated the invitation to E, who shook her head shyly and buried herself in my stomach. "What's up?" I whispered, even though I knew.

She's my friend but not my best friend. I'm shy to go there. I can't yet.

I whispered to the mom that E starts out shy, but maybe her daughter could come play at our house? The other mom graciously understood but expressed surprise. "I didn't know your daughter struggles with shyness. I watch her run around with all the kids. She just seems so..." she waved her hand around, seeking-- "...popular."

'Popular' isn't exactly the right word but it's true that once E is comfortable, she sheds the anxieties that have chased her for so long -- and she's accrued a crew, a whole posse, with whom she feels comfortable. There was a time just a couple of years ago that any new adult could read E's whole story on her face, because in the presence of any new adult she'd shut down completely, or fall apart in red-faced tears. Now a new adult in her orbit just sees a happy kid.

'Happy' is a simplification, too, but we have realized this summer just how far she's come. It's okay to be shy; it's great to manage it and express it with words instead of panic; it's okay to be anxious at the start of school and it's fine to feel worn out from it. The beach feels so long ago. Fighting E's anxiety feels as old as her whole lifeline but you guys, she's come into such an amazing, ordinary, exquisite balance.


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