A New Playground

I embrace the idea that every day is a new day – fresh with possibilities and new challenges.  I don’t always wake up feeling that perky about it, and I don’t often use it as fully as it presents itself, but still…. each day holds incredible potential.

Some days are more equal than others.

This morning I write this from the Best Western in Wooster, Ohio.  The girlchild is sprawled across her bed, oblivious to my typing just a few feet away from her.  She was up until at least 3 a.m., reading “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”.  Bill is the next bed over, gently sawing wood.  In an hour or so they will both be awake and we will be about our day.  Our day that is more equal than others.

Today, Ella takes her placement tests for college – and spends the day, and night – with a quarter of her fellow Freshmen.  Today, my daughter begins to move from our world, to her own.  Today she begins to take very real steps away from home.

When she was a toddler, we’d often take her to the playground.  (Any playground would do… we’d have to deliberately alter our driving route to avoid playgrounds, for the moment they were in her vision, she would not be deterred from visiting).  After we’d get her out of the car seat, her feet would start moving towards the equipment.  Her arms would extend as if to offer a hug to whomever was near, and she’d say in the sweetest voice:  “Friends!”.  It was uttered as an exclamation and a question:  an expression of hope, that whomever was on the monkeybars or the swings would soon become her friend.

It was often hard to let her go.  To watch as she’d move towards an already established group of children knowing that they might rebuff her – and that the pain from that would be far harder to nurse than a scrape from the slide.  More often than not, she’d find a friend, and those successes helped propel her feet forward the next time.  She never gave up.

This same child now toddles towards campus.  Her anxieties aren’t about books or classes or whether she’ll do well academically.  She wonders (as do I) who will laugh and weep with her over these next few years.  Who will join her on the emotional swings of college?  Who will be her friends?

And now, just as then, we watch her walk away knowing she may very well get banged up from the experience.  Our job, as always, is to let her go, and to watch with amazement her courage and beauty as she moves towards this new playground of possibilities.



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