I know I have had some pretty angsty, please-don't-leave-a-comment posts about my 13 year-old daughter Molly lately and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to pen something about her that is sweetness and light and will help me remember how things used to be and perhaps carry some of the memory with me as we approach 14...
I remember when my daughter was young, I was invited to a birthday party a friend was having for her then 3 year-old. Even so, I can recall being a bit of an introvert but I liked this girl and her husband and with nobody else home, made a go of it and packed Molly up for an afternoon of games and foodstuffs.
In reflecting upon that day, I call to mind Molly being very shy and introverted herself. She had no desire to join in any games with the other children, and especially not so when she eyed the swing that was hooked up to a gigantic oak tree in their back yard. Molly had loved her swing, ever since she was a tiny baby. She ran over to it like it was made especially for her, clambered in and I secured her and she started pushing and pulling her body weight on her own after a little encouragement from me behind her.
"What's her name?" asked the man who was approaching me with the Nikon camera hanging around his neck.
"She is adorable...mind if I take a few shots of her?"
"Of course not!" I was pretty flattered that a professional photographer asked to take her picture.
Throughout our time at this barbecue, I noticed he took more than one. He later admitted he was pretty smitten with her and had had a daughter her age. It actually ended up being a very memorable party for many reasons, none the least of which was because around one month later, MJ called to tell me she had a stack of pictures from "that guy at the party with the camera..." I have posted portions of the collage frame because of their age and fragility, but you can get a good idea of what he saw through his lens: sweet abandon.
Every child has their "thinking" spot. Molly's is, and always has been, her swingset. She has been through three of them in our back yard and even now, and especially when she has had a bad day and doesn't want to *talk about it*, she goes "B.O.B." which means "Be Out Back."
"I'm going Bob," to which we respond, "we'll B.R.H.," (pronounced "Breh") which of course, means "Be Right Here."
She connects to something bigger than all of us when she is on a swing. She becomes other-minded and often after a lengthy period of time, returns to the house more focused. We tease her now and ask what we are going to do when she "outgrows" this particular swing and we need to replace it? She asserts that she will no longer desire to go Bob then, but I cannot imagine her being without the outlet.
...Even on rainy days, save for lightning and thunder.
...Windy days, when the forces of nature are blowing her more than she is battling against them, she is on her swing, prayerfully swinging away whatever has her worried or anxious, and returns to us as a different child altogether.
It is her soft place to land when things get tired and edgy in her life, and I know I have driven her to her swing on more than one occasion especially in the last few months.
Regardless of what happens between now and her advancing teenaged years, I will never forget my child who used to swing with sweet abandon. It serves to soften her edges as well as this mama's heart.