Thanks so much everyone, for your input on my rant the other day. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who thinks that this sort of activity (both the boy vs. girl and group criticism session) is more damaging than helpful. I'm waiting right now to hear what the teachers who were running the session think/were thinking/are planning to do (they come in once a week to do this class; it was Tess' main teacher who was so understanding). Meanwhile, I'll keep talking to Tess about it to mitigate some of the effect (luckily, the kids in her class really do get along well across both age and gender lines, so I don't think that this is something that will hurt that in the long run).
Yesterday, we went to the Bar Mitzvah of the son of a friend of mine. I've known him now for over five years, and it's amazing how much a child changes during that time. It was wonderful to see him standing in front of everyone in Temple, so confident as he read in Hebrew. There was a party afterwards at my friend's house, with a great mix of people, including a number of her son's friends from middle school. At one point during the evening, I happened to see Tess, standing back and watching the girls from middle school as they were dancing and joking around. I could see on Tess' face that for one moment, she was seeing in those girls the self that she is going to be in a few more years. There was no envy or disappointment that she wasn't like them, just a sense of two selves, separated on a timeline, a looking-forward with no attachment. It stopped my breath for a moment to see her, seeing herself so clearly.
It doesn't happen often, to see one's children in the middle of these internalized moments. When Kivrin turned five, the same thing happened. We had all gone out to lunch with a few friends to celebrate (Rubio's -- her choice), and I had given her a set of dress-up jewelry (both the girls are huge fans of dress-up). She unwrapped it, and put on the clip-on earrings, ring, and tiara, and as she adjusted the tiara on her head, for one moment, she smiled. It was a smile of such surpassing sweetness, it stopped my heart. I could see in her face that she was seeing herself as lovely, as grown-up, as Five. She didn't need to look to us to tell her that she was all those things; it was entirely internal, an awareness of who she was at that moment.
What is perhaps most wonderful about these moments is that when I see my daughters seeing themselves, there is a powerful sense of acceptance and of love. I don't think that I look at myself with such grace and open-heartedness, and I would that I did. That holding of self in esteem is something that is all too often lost on the road to adulthood, at great price. I want so much for them to hang on to it. Yesterday's celebration gives me hope. I saw Adin standing there in front of a room full of people, and when he looked at us, it was in the confident knowledge that he was loved, and that there was nothing to fear in the experience. Later, at the party, he played his saxophone with the band, and he had that same pleasure in the doing, that same lack of fear that he would be disregarded or mocked. I could never have done that at his age (hell, I probably still couldn't); I would have been sure that I'd be made fun of for making mistakes, or for even thinking that anyone would have wanted to hear me in the first place. But it clearly doesn't have to be that way, and I don't want it to be for my girls.
BTW, here they are, all dressed up for yesterday. Note: they deliberately choose dressy outfits that match. I am well aware that this will change at some point in the near future, but in the meantime, they like it (these are the same girls who, in spite of all their quarrels, choose to share a room, and seem to like playing together), and who am I to argue (even though I know that people think I'm some strange psycho-mom)?
There is some knitting content here, if you've stuck with me this far. Yesterday I bought the second of Barbara Walker's stitch dictionaries (no, I do not have the first, but I couldn't buy all of them, and the second one was bigger; yes, I am a bit childish that way). Wow. I mean really, wow. I spent last night and this morning looking through it, and I am simultaneously completely thrilled by the thought of all the things I could *do* with those stitches, and crushed by the fear that I will never be the kind of creative knitter who could come up with those sorts of beautiful patterns on my own. However, I already have Plans for some of those stitches, and am about to go and frog the beginning of the Cherry Tree Hill Fall Foliage sock, which wasn't working out quite like I'd planned anyway, and which I think will be much better with some of these new patterns. Here it is, so far:
Now that I look at it again (in spite of the blurry picture) it's not bad. Maybe I do like it, and I'll go with this for this pair, and try something new on another pair. I'll try a few more repeats and see how I feel. Decisions, decisions...
Ooh! I just saw that Wanda tagged me for a book meme; now I get to think about books while I knit. Thanks, Wanda!