Wednesday, August 19, 2009
This is one of my favorite pictures of my daughter.
The first thing I noticed when the orthodontist e-mailed it to me, of course, was the beautifully patent airway, a dark passageway beside the column of stacked cervical vertebrae.
After that I couldn't help admiring the specter of her facial features over her bone structure, so lovely and young yet also with the timeless look of a wise old soul, a spirit that has known lifetimes of joy and sorrow, or one that is innocent of it all - a pure heart. She is Nefertiti looking out across the Nile toward Amarna, she is the Little Match Girl of Andersen's tale, she is Mary with her secret garden, she's the Princess of Genovia. She's all these and none of these. She's the girl we love most in all the world.
She has a will of iron and a heart of gold. She is bubbly and carefree, yet capable of a depth of feeling that might seem well beyond her years. She's a "Tween" through and through: on the phone rhapsodizing about Twilight's Edward one moment, hugging her teddy the next; pushing our rules to the limit, and sometimes overstepping them; developing political opinions and a social conscience; sweet and loving with us, certainly, but also possessed of a tone and attitude that sometimes send her stomping up the stairs and us throwing up our hands wondering how to get our messages through.
She got braces this past week - a reminder that time just keeps flowing onward, and we have to try and keep up. Every adolescent needs braces of some kind. Little guiding supports, pushes and tugs to maneuver things into place and get them in the best possible alignment. We're just trying to figure out how to apply ours without too much hurt and discomfort, and with some hope of compliance.
Already I've messed up. Pushed a little too hard, shown sometimes more anger than understanding, perhaps expected too much.
I wonder if she'll look back and resent this period of tested limits and battling wills, or whether like a patient I had today she'll look back on her parents' "strictness" with an understanding that it sprang from a deep caring about her choices and her well-being, her health and her character. I hope she does see someday that the "tough love" that sometimes drives her up the wall is the same love that lights up my face whenever I see her, that makes me hug her extra hard for no reason at all, and that keeps her always in my mind and heart even when I'm faraway.