Balance: A Lesson from my Pre-Teen

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Last fall, my sixth grade daughter came home from school with an invitation to join honor band. My heart immediately leapt with pride as I envisioned her playing her clarinet with the best of the best in our school district. Yet the hesitation on her face let me know she didn’t share my excitement. I took a breath before asking her if she wanted to accept.

“I don’t know,” was all I got.

Time To Think

She’s a processor, so I realized she needed time to think about it. Then she would see what a great opportunity it was. After all, her dad and I didn’t grow up in places that offered these opportunities. When life gives them to you, you should grab the reins and enjoy the ride, even if it tips the scales of balance. Sometimes, like a bull-rider, you just have to hold on until your eight-seconds is over.

My daughter had a week to consider the invitation. The day before she had to give an answer to her band teacher, I asked her again what she thought. Without making eye contact, she said, “I don’t want to do it.” When I asked why, she replied, “The day they scheduled to practice is the only night of the week we don’t have anything going on. I really just want one night to relax.”

Relax? 

Initially, her response infuriated me inside. Relax? You’ve been handed an opportunity many children could only dream of, and you want to relax? Don’t you owe it to your teacher and school to represent them? Not to mention you’ve been given a gift, and we should share our gifts with the world. When I was growing up and an opportunity like this arose, saying no was not an option.

Now I needed time to process.

As my girls completed their homework, I silently fumed about how my daughter could so easily dismiss such a great opportunity. When she finished her homework, she announced that she was going outside. Minutes later, I glanced out the window to see her perched in her hammock swing in the back yard engrossed in a book. Her foot gently rocked her back and forth as she lost herself in story. The setting sun’s rays shone a spotlight on her relaxed body.

Balance…

That’s when it hit me. My anger wasn’t toward my daughter turning down an opportunity. It was toward myself for not having her ability to say no. She knew herself well enough to know that she needed balance. And she had enough confidence in herself that she didn’t need others’ admiration to feel fulfilled.

For over forty years I’ve been working on that balance. My daughter figured it out in eleven.

That night as I tucked her into bed, I told her how proud I was that she took the time to consider the invitation before making a decision. And for coming to the conclusion that she knew was best for her. As I kissed her good night, I hoped I possessed the same wisdom the next time I was offered an opportunity that might tip the scales of balance in my life.

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Erin is a Colorado native who loves both the mountains and the plains. She was an elementary school teacher until she did something she said she’d never do: marry an Army guy. Not only did she fall in love with him, she fell in love with the military life, and continues to write about it. Now she’s a stay-at-home mom to two amazing girls, though she’s rarely found at home. Erin is active in her community and church, is a former PTO President, and currently serves as Vice President of the Colorado Springs chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. She believes in second chances, and is thankful for hers. She was thrilled to remain in Colorado Springs upon her husband’s retirement from the Army, and counts herself lucky to watch the sun set behind Cheyenne Mountain every evening. Erin enjoys reading, gardening, hiking, and any time spent with her family.

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