Saturday, May 28, 2011

Moving out

Shannon is moving out.

Today I sat on her bed with her and we counted the money from an old piggy bank she’d found when she was going through her stuff. We needed a level place to stack the coins, so she pulled an old picture book off her shelf, a beautiful version of Puss in Boots that I used to read to the kids over and over when they were small.

The large green eyes of Puss stared up at me from over his ruffled collar on the back of the book jacket. I stacked pennies on his face in groups of ten. It takes a lot of stacks of pennies to make three dollars. We stacked, and then we started rolling, and then Jon called to see if he could get permission to go to a drive-in movie with the church youth group and I was pulled away, which was a loss and a mercy rolled into one.

Her room is different now, as she has boxed up her books, removed her clothes from the closet, cleared her shelves. I don’t think she has thrown much away, and for now, that is a-ok.

I don’t remember leaving my room like this. I just don’t remember. I don’t remember my mom crying, or shopping for me, or stressing out about whether I had a toilet brush for cleaning my bathroom. Maybe it didn’t happen. I think we borrowed Al and Jackie’s truck and loaded it ourselves.

When I go “home” to my parents’ house (and somehow, no matter how old I get, I think that place will always be home), I feel so young in my old room. I can be 27, or 32, or 44, and I still feel all the uncertainty of 14 when I sit on my old bed and look into the full length mirror on the wall next to the closet. Instead of seeing the wrinkles and the gray hair, I see the frightened eyes and trembling lips of a young girl, and I feel like I need somebody to tell me what to do.

I still feel like I need somebody to tell me what to do, and to help me do it. Even in my own home, I feel like I can’t handle it, I am not qualified. I never oil my woodwork or my dining room chairs. Somebody ought to make me do that... I would love if somebody would come alongside me and do it with me.

Maybe this is why I feel so overwhelmed for Shannon. Because I am overwhelmed myself and always have been. I was never able to teach her the things I didn’t know.

But that doesn’t mean she can’t learn them somewhere else. She is the bomb at chemistry, and I didn’t teach her that. I may have sparked her imagination with acid-base experiments using red cabbage juice. We did those when she was in fourth grade and I homeschooled her. We also used turmeric on coffee filters to make homemade base indicators. She wanted to do science every day. I should have had a clue...

But I did not teach her real chemistry, and I did not teach her how to manage a home, and I did not teach her to be mysteriously feminine. I did not know enough about those things myself. She will have to learn these things or not, on her own, according to the will of God.

I love her so much. I will miss her so much. Why does a happy, exciting time have to be so heart rending?

Shawn and I went for a walk tonight while it got dark. Under the glow of the streetlight, maple seed helicopters shone white and messy across the asphalt road. I picked a perfect one and brought it back to the house. Shannon and I played with it in the open foyer, tossing it from the top of the stairs and watching it spin down.

I hear the hose running water into our pool because a new liner was installed today, and I hope I remember this evening forever.

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