I realized recently that I have never really explained how Anneke and I entitled this blog. (Do blogs have titles? names?) Anyway, when Anneke was a baby the crib didn't really work out for us, as a 'baby-sleeping device'. Our three cats claimed it at theirs and were quite put out if they ever discovered a baby in their luxury cat bed. Anneke mostly slept in bed with us. Once s/he got a 'big-girl bed' s/he would only fall asleep if I laid down with her in her bed. While at first I found this to be an imposition I soon realized that this was one of the few times Anneke truly let out her feelings and talk about her day.
Until bed time Anneke would act like all other kids. "How was school?" Fine.
"Were your friends nice to you?" Yep.
"Did anything happen today at school?" Nope
"Is everything OK?" Yes, mom...(add some Disney attitude)
It was not until the quiet of the night, and the safe peace of her time with me that s/he would open up and tell me about her day. Most times s/he would just begin to cry. "I don't know why I'm crying" s/he would say. This happened almost three times a week. S/he would confess, that she didn't have any friends and that the kids at school would not play with her; that s/he felt different from the other girls, and didn't like being different.
"You know mom" s/he would often say "it's really hard to be me."
"I know sweetie" I would always say.
In my most desperate moments I would suggest s/he could be like the other girls, grow her hair and buy different clothes. S/he would pause, obviously contemplating this, then always say, "No, that wouldn't be me."
"I know, and I don't want you to change, not even a bit" I would always say, as if coming to my senses.
All of my high-school insecurities seemed to bubble to the surface during these moments. I would remember all the time and effort I would devote to fitting in and being like everyone else. I would always look at this amazing child before me in awe of how courageous s/he was. Able to be herself, despite how hard it felt, and how lonely s/he was. It is that courage, however, that resolve, that tells me everything will be fine. Despite the pressure and isolation Anneke has never waivered in who s/he is and what s/he wears. It has taken me almost 40 years to develop that kind of self confidence.
I know at age 12 we have some difficult years ahead. But I also know I have one of the strongest most amazing kids in the world.