Friday, July 15, 2011

Misson Unknown

My kids did a holiday workshop at the local Science Centre today. It was called "Slime Chemistry" and sounded awesome.

It was their first workshop at the Science Centre, and for my girl,

her first independent class since leaving School (stressed, fearful, and weakened), over two years ago.

Independent meaning:
not run by me,
not run by a friend (with me there), and
not run by a teacher (with me there).

It hit her just as we were driving to the Centre.

    "So can you stay?" she asked (as she'd asked when I booked them in).

    "I'm not sure, sweetheart," I said (as I'd said when I'd booked her in). "There may not be space for me in the room."

    "What will you do?"

    "Well, if I can't watch, I thought I might go to a coffee shop," I said.

    "Oh… I don't know… (pause for worry to sink in)…I'm not sure. I don't think I want to do it."

    "I think you'll have a really good time, sweetie. It sounds like a great workshop. And if you want…I could stay just outside, if you like. I brought a book."

    "But what if I need you in the class? What if I don't know what to do?"

    "Well…You could ask the workshop people for help?"

Which is when my beautiful boy said:

    "I'll be there. You can ask me. I can help you."

My girl held onto that, for a while. (And I quietly let go of my coffee shop thought, which had only been a thought, after all.)

We got their name tags at reception. I asked, "Can I watch?" and they said, "It's a really small room. There's probably not enough space." My son's friends had come for the workshop too, so he wandered off, through the Centre, with them. My girl stuck close to me. Then, suddenly, it was time to line up. Kids started to file into the workshop room, great confident loads of them.

There she was, little fish, caught in the stream. She turned. Headed back; looked up at me.

    "I don't think I want to do this any more."

Her brother paused. He could have gone in with his buddies, but he waited.

    I said to my girl, "I really think you'll have a wonderful time." I smiled.

    I said to my boy, "Would you get a seat with her, make sure you're sitting together?"

    "Yes," he said. He seemed suddenly bigger then. Big brother. Mission Possible.

And so she turned, again, and went in.

The door to the workshop was open for just a minute or two more. Enough time for my girl to bolt out, like the dudes do in Star Wars, with the doors closing vertically, barely a second to spare, doing that awesome forward roll as the laser bullets shoot past.

But she stayed!

And the rest of the workshop, for me, looked like this:

She stayed, and when she came out, slime in hand—with all that doing done, and learning learned?

She smiled.

    "I made a friend!" she said.

Of course you did, I thought. How proud I feel! I thought. How big this step was.

And how simple it seems on the other side. Like when you ski down that slope. Eat that slimy new thing. Jump off that rock. Play your first concert.

You think, Oh, that wasn't bad at all!

After all, you've got your slime. Your brother stuck by you. Your mother waited outside as she promised. You made a friend. You are proud of you.

Mission Accomplished.

taken as they opened the doors after 90 minutes…

my girl and boy completely, happily,


  1. What a good boy! What a brave girl! I love this story.

  2. thank you for sharing this, my wee girl growing up so fast has a huge issue around classes and workshops, I feel so heartbreakingly sad for her and she has no big bro to protect her so most times we forgo such occasions.
    Yay for gutsy girl bravery!

  3. I will be following your footsteps...waiting with a book and coffee by the door. It's great that your daughter made a friend!

  4. Helena, I am so happy! This is just the best news ever. Your son is a kind boy who is so thoughtful and loving. You are raising such lovely kids. I am so proud of your girl. I am sitting here just grinning for her wonderful accomplishment.

  5. How great for her that she knew you were right there waiting, and that you'll be there waiting again if she needs you, and maybe one of these times, she'll say "I don't need you to wait, you go to the coffeeshop." How wonderful of her big brother to say, "I am here for you."

    I have a daughter who tends to say, "Do you need to stay? I'm good here on my own." I try to honor that about her as well.

  6. Helena, this is such a positive story, but why am I crying?

    I can so feel her worry about something new, in a new place, with new (hoards of) people. My dd has similar worries. I am so happy she loved it and felt a sense of accomplishment!

    Wishing you more of those moments!

  7. Yay for your girl! And what a SWEET and LOVING boy you have!!

  8. Helena thank you for sharing these moments, these stories and thoughts with us. I can SO relate - to your DD being scared to go in by herself, to you wanting to be able to just go and have coffee, like all the other mums, but staying and supporting because you said you would. To your sense of pride in a really big achievement for your daughter in your wonderful, wonderful son. I love that you share all that with us. Thank you.


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.