Things I Learned From My Daughter…

Autumn Age 6

I still remember many details of my daughter’s birth. Howie Day’s Collide still brings those memories rushing back to me. I look at Autumn now and cannot help but be proud. No doubt, if you’ve read my blog, you’ve seen a good bit about my daughter. Indeed, there is not much I do without my children in tow and you will certainly be seeing a post about my son sooner than later because, let’s face it, boys have an entirely different set of rules.

There’s a reason I’m choosing to start with Autumn. Not because she’s my first born. Not even because she’s my favorite (seriously, show me the parent who can truly point to their favorite child and I will give him or her a psychiatrist’s phone number because there’s a lot going wrong there). I’m starting because my kiddo has had a rough go of things lately (more on that later) and she’s taught me a lot in the process.

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This girl played tackle football for two years…talk about passion! It was the only time she wore a Seahawks jersey.

Passion

Autumn is a passionate child. She feels so much of what happens to her and those she cares about most. Sadly, she doesn’t understand why people feel the need to be cruel or why politics play such a role in her sports and other activities. Autumn’s emotions sometimes get the best of her, much like her mother. She and I work so hard to control them, but when our loved ones are in the crosshairs of an injustice, it’s difficult and sometimes impossible.

My daughter has also reminded me of my passion. She pushes me to pursue it, especially when I doubt myself. Autumn is my favorite beta reader, only of the appropriate pieces, of course. It still amazes me that she catches even the smallest mistakes. Her keen eye spots inaccuracies in plot and the dreaded to, two, or too faux pas. She talks out difficult plot points and characters who are lacking that one key element that makes them great. Most of all, Autumn is unfailingly honest. If it sucks, she doesn’t even try to hide it.

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See that messenger bag? Autumn made that at age 10 to use as her backpack. This was her first day of 5th grade….how many 5th graders do you know who can sew something like that?

Perseverance

Do you know those stories about people who have been told they can’t or they aren’t good enough or they just lack the basic skills to do something but somehow, against all odds, made it happen anyway? You will probably hear that about Autumn someday. If ever you want Autumn to truly excel at something, use some reverse psychology and tell her she can’t. It works every time. Autumn has had a bit too much experience with such things as of late. She just works harder.

It hurts me to see her told no. Told she’s not good enough. Told she’s lacking the basic skills to do something. I had to hear it tonight. She didn’t make a sports team but girls she’s beat many times over in the past made it. It hurts her father and I more than it hurts her because she will turn it into a torch that won’t extinguish until Autumn chooses to put it out. Watching Autumn attack anything with a chip on her shoulder is enough to make anybody believe in perseverance, but nobody more than me.

Must remember that Autumn is tougher than people (including me) give her credit for.

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This is Autumn just before her 11th birthday – looks scary doesn’t she?

Kindness

Autumn is big and strong and competitive. She can be terribly aggressive on a softball field or basketball court. Kids who have competed against her have been afraid of her at times. Then they’ve met her through school or on another team or activity and had the chance to see the other side of Autumn. She never wants anybody to be left out. She picks the one person who’s alone and tries to include them. Autumn looks after younger kids though she’d rather spend time debating with older ones. She would rather try to be nice to the school’s “mean girls” than enter a dramatic war with them.

I have a hard time with this one. Aside from reverting to “Mama Bear” mode when somebody does a disservice to my child, I try to be kind because I want to be a role model for my kids. Autumn keeps me honest this way. She’s been picked on many times over the course of her life and even if it hurts her, she saves her pain for later, in her bedroom, where the world can’t see because Autumn would rather try to make things better and deal with her own feelings later.

img_3541Autumn isn’t a perfect child, we all know that’s simply not possible. She makes mistakes and she overreacts (no idea where she gets that from *sarcasm font*) but she’s working on these things much earlier in life than I did. She can’t carry a tune very well and she thinks she knows a lot more than she does (she’s only 11 but I’m guessing ages 13-19 are going to be hell in our house). Hell, Autumn likes to bite off a lot more than she can chew because she’s so eager to try everything once and learn as many things as she can. But, Autumn is also courageous, brave, and unfailingly loyal.

At the end of the day, Autumn is a great kid with so much to offer this world. I feel sorry for the people who can’t see that, who can’t (or won’t) give her an opportunity she asks for, or who can’t get out of their own way long enough to get to know her. Please, keep telling Autumn what she can’t do because I guarantee you, she’ll knock your socks off with what she can.