Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Out of the shadows

Last night I was pretty upset when a blog I had been working on about my new "spending diet" suddenly disappeared off the screen. I think it was a sign that writing about not buying a $2 book or an H&M sweater is full of sacrifice is very insipid and not something to which most of America could relate in a time when many Americans are out of work, losing their home or trying to put food on the table.

That said, I was distraught over technology taking my words away. So when my sweet, loving second child came in to give me a hug and tell me it would be OK, I did wrong thing -- I lashed out. "No TV for you tonight until you bring up that science grade." No matter that it was already 9:30 p.m. or that she simply wanted to distract me by offering to watch a "Friends" episode.

She quietly disappeared to her room where 20 minutes later I found her teary-eyed to offer an apology. It was too late really. Her compassion had been met with hostility. She just wanted to be left alone and I couldn't really blame her.

A little about this second child. She arrived three years after her sibling, the golden first-born whom doctors deemed "exceptionally superior" (or something along those lines) at birth. This child adored the older one, crawling to his room and banging on the door with her little toddler fist. We often joke that the older one raised the second one, spending hours together in make believe land with Barbies, toys and fantasy games.

Still, the younger one knew at a young age that she would have to forge her own path. When we put her in the gifted program so she would have equal opportunities as her sibling, she was really too young to protest. It wasn't until she switched schools in 6th grade that we saw that she had different social needs, individual talents and strengths and glaring social needs. Additionally, she didn't need to be labeled as "gifted" to show her intelligence, dry wit or writing skills.

Then came middle school. Suddenly the sweet, quiet little sister was growing into her own skin. She talked back and held her own in intellectual arguments thrown out by her self-labeled nerdy sibling. She talked in depth about an Edgar Allan Poe poem she read in school. She played all sports, joined choir and leadership and developed a fashion sense not held by anyone else in the immediate family, complete with hair straighteners (yes two), designer sweatpants and most recently, self-tanners.

Still, she was the one who could make us all laugh after dinner with silly songs on the ukulele about wiggly toes and jokes about talking muffins. The second born was the one who recently announced she wanted to  be, not a fashion model, but a special education teacher. Go figure?

She is the one I watch TV with, the one I paint my toes with and the one who gives me hugs even when I'm grumpy and mean.

Look out world. My second born is getting ready to fly!


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