Monday, June 19, 2006

The way it is

Allison has been going through a bad spell. She is crying daily, asking to go home. It is like is really dawned on her that we aren't going home anytime soon. She has grown a lot in the eight months we've been here. She has passed that baby stage and entered a place of greater awareness. I can't pacify her with simple things anymore. She has opinions of her own and the foremost is this: "I don't like it here and I want to go home."

I think she is worn out from the stress of attending a Spanish-speaking school. Every day must be a struggle to try to comprehend the material. And this is finals week. Like anybody else she isn't happy when she can't perform at her best. Lately she's been obsessed with getting her homework right and getting to school on time. Once, when she didn't have her homework done she was made to sit at the front of the class, a humiliation she is loathe to experience again.

I feel for her, but then I try to put it into perspective. She is a loved little girl with every advantage. She is being offered a unique experience that later in life will benefit her. I think I feel guilty because I am so enjoying my life, taking it easy, reveling in the simplicity and slowness, in contrast to her experience of struggle and displacement.

I told her to be tough, that it will only get better; like all challenges in life, the difficulty makes the rewards that much sweeter. My speeches are peppered with the rhetoric of character-building, full of Ben Franklin-like nuggets, while I, myself, dwell in a zen-like state of being, living in the moment with little sense of pressure to perform. I may be tired of competing, but I need to prepare my progeny for the pursuit. It's the American way. Tocqueville, visiting America, noted that ordinary citizens pursue their welfare with feverish ardor. The opportunity to achieve and advance creates a sense of obligation to strive toward that end. I must believe this because it is at the core of my maternal instinct. It's my duty to pass this on to my children.

But me, I had to work my way here to this plateau of what-the-hell-I-deserve-this-time-off. My daughter, on the other hand, has to come up through the ranks. Sorry, kid.

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