I love keeping streaks going.
Once I set my mind to something, I usually follow through.
Like writing this blog every day of the year in its first year (except weekends and holidays).
Like writing this blog every weekend (Saturday or Sunday) and every Wednesday in its second year.
Like finishing every marathon I have ever entered.
My entry on Sunday about parenthood promised a conclusion and some backstory.
And here we have Wednesday already!
So here I go.
Last weekend was typical for our family. Our seven-year-old daughter does not believe in sleeping in so The Three of Us were up by six, trying to stay pretty quiet for the neighbors, getting ready for a day of Hawaiian Studies and hula at the YMCA followed by exercise, followed by chores, meals, homework (for our daughter and her two dads for their jobs!), a lovely drive to take in Hawaii that we sometimes forget to do with the rush of everyday life.
Sunday brought a lot of excitement. Our daughter read an aspiration at Temple service. Her fathers squeezed in work. She then was installed as a Brownie at a large gathering of Girl Scouts. Her fathers held back tears and squeezed in a little more work.
Then we visited Ellen’s favorite museum for two hours while her one father tutored to pay for our daughter’s summer school. (We like to plan ahead.)
This father, the author of this blog, took Ellen to her favorite places. We had lemonade. The two hours went by quickly. We met a new family with two young daughters close to Ellen’s age. The girls played games together and really seemed to enjoy each other’s company. The father I met teaches special education. His wife is a specialist in genetics. Our conversation was easy. They both remarked how they could instantly see that Ellen is a smart, alert, and physically strong young girl with great social skills. Full of hope, I gave out my business cards. They could understand why I dream that she one day go to college. They said with a daughter like Ellen, they would do the same.
The girls left the volcano exhibit to play on a great lawn outside. The girls’ laughter filled the air. But the museum was soon closing, Ellen’s other father, who watched from afar, was wrapping up his tutoring. My new friends wanted to leave. We talked about a possible playdate which is such a rare occurrence for our family. Even when Ben and I have invited families to our home, prepared wonderful meals, engaged in fun conversations, we rarely hear back or are offered an invitation in return.
We’ve often wondered if people are a bit scared of their children having friendships with a girl born with an extra chromosome, or with her parents who often feel we come across as a bit needy or too hopeful.
A natural suggestion many people have is to join groups with other families with children with “disabilities,” a term that I avoid, especially around my daughter. It has always been our goal that she hold her own with “typical” children. And so far she has — at school, at the YMCA, at Temple services at Girl Scouts. She is thriving.
But she needs friends. So when at the great lawn at the museum when we were all getting ready to say goodbye, and my daughter inexplicably shoved her new, younger friend out of the blue, my heart stopped. It was not a hard shove, but a clear one. I made Ellen apologize. The girls hugged. The mother assured me her daughters shove each other all the time. But I was crestfallen.
At home, not the calm, steady Quaker I try to be, my voice shook a little when I explained to Ellen that a strong finish is perhaps more important than everything that came before, whether its miles in a marathon, the end of a tennis match or playdate, finishing a semester, the last sentence of an exam or poem.
I don’t know how much of that life lesson she took in. Why should I expect so much from her when I am still reminding myself how valuable strong finishes are?
It is no surprise for me that I have not yet heard from the girls’ parents I met last Sunday at the museum. My disappointment about how the Sunday afternoon ended is less intense now that it is Wednesday. I am, though, waiting for a few miracles to come my way. Maybe they have and I’m just a little too tired to recognize them.