Today, you are 2 years, 9 months and 27 days old. It’s not your birthday and you haven’t reached some developmental milestone, but it is a day I want to document as it has marked my heart and I know the way I feel about people and parenting won’t be the same after it.
Today, I took you to the second installment of the SymphonyLand series we began last month. You were so excited to go. So was I. That last time was such fun. You are so musical. I think it’s because you’re a kid that, as my friend Susanne puts it, “is a slave to her emotions.” When you feel something, you are full up, filled to the brim with it. And music is such an emotional and moving experience – at least when it’s done right – and it is right where you live. You’ve gotten really good at identifying instruments, not just by sight, but also sound. You have a great ear and can discern the brass from the woodwinds and woodwinds from the strings in an ensemble piece. So, the series was right up your alley and, even better, it was an opportunity for us to do something we chose just for you. We do plenty of things as a family and I know it’s easy to feel like a tag-a-long in your big sister’s life. I was grateful for the chance to give you your day. Today.
Unfortunately, our fun was short-lived.
You were enjoying the experience – talking to the other children, exploring the room, dancing, pointing and, at times, getting in the way. I watched from the sidelines with Phoebe, intervening only when I felt your fun was impeding someone else’s enjoyment of the performance. The second song in, you wandered to the other side of the room and did a dance move that ended with you flat on your back. You didn’t immediately get up. I think you were relishing the attention the other children were giving you, so I began to make my way toward you when a woman from the audience got out of her seat, bent down, pulled you up by the arms and brought you to me. She told me I needed to keep you corralled or leave.
Our exit was swift. We lingered in the lobby only to get Phoebe back in the car seat and our coats on while the kind and worried people working at the event tried their very best to remedy the situation. I so appreciated their concern for us and especially the dignity they allowed us as we made our way out, confused, humiliated and heartbroken. I would have expressed that then, but I was trying so hard to hold it together. I could feel the tears coming and I didn’t want to shed them there. I scooped you and your sister up, raced to the car, and drove out of the parking lot and a few blocks away where I pulled over and sobbed.
You didn’t know what to do. You weren’t aware of all that had happened. You’d been having fun. Even when that woman put her hands on you, you didn’t feel the gravity of what was being done. “I don’t want to go, yet,” you’d said when I told you we had to leave. But you followed my lead and left with a little, “Bye guys!” and a wave. Thank God for your innocence. Nothing was ruined for you. But in the car, you understood that something was wrong and you told me, oh so quietly, “It okay, Mommy. No cry. No cry.”
We came home and you began to work on Valentine’s for the Pink Party we’re going to later today. You’re on to the next thing. But I feel shattered. As a parent, Lucy, the worst thing that can happen (next to something happening to your children) is to feel as if you’ve done wrong by your child. I worry that I’ve done wrong by you. I wonder if I shouldn’t have left. I wonder if I should have stood strong, stood up for you and told that woman that you were just fine, told her she had no right to put her hands on you. My desire to protect you should have been stronger than my fear of looking like a bad mom to someone else. I’ve made plenty of parenting mistakes. If allowing you the freedom to explore today was a mistake, I’m okay with that one. I’ll chalk it up to experience. But I’m not okay with letting you down.
Lucy, you are a ball of fire, burning bright and beautiful. And sometimes, you wipe out everything in your path. But mostly, you are a light. Let that light shine, little girl. I promise to do better the next time someone tries to put it out.