SALT LAKE CITY — She has a scowl on her face that is hard to read. She hangs her head low while walking in the hallway. She sits alone at the lunchroom table. She keeps quiet in class, hoping to be invisible to her teachers so they won't call on her.
Kids don't approach her and she knows why, but she doesn't know how to change it. It's not in her nature to be the friend-maker, and her creative mind freezes when faced with rule-abiding subjects like math and science, often making school a drag. At school she is sad, wrought with insecurities and filled with angst.
She has a smile on her face that is unforgettable, complete with dimples that could brighten anyone's day. She sits at her desk and draws portraits, nails her tumbling passes complete with consecutive back-whips, and can lull her baby brother to sleep as well as anyone (including his own mother). She sets out her clothes every night and plans out her hairstyle, hoping that other kids her age will notice her.
Her parents and siblings adore her and would change nothing about her. At home, she is happy, knows who she is and is filled with confidence.
She is my daughter and, as her mother, it is hard to watch her endure the junior high school years.
Part of me wants to blame parents for raising mean and self-absorbed children. Part of me wants to blame teachers for being oblivious to struggling kids. I often feel like blaming society for a school system that is set up to let many children feel unintelligent, remain friendless and in turn hopeless within its walls. And believe me, I've said all those things out loud.
But the blame falls on no one's shoulders. Not even mine or my daughter's.
This tale of two worlds is all part of life.
... life isn't just about overcoming obstacles, but realizing what role each obstacle plays in the balance of life. It's about finding good to balance the bad.
My daughter has sadness so she can recognize happiness. She fails at some things in life but also knows the feeling of success in others. She may be invisible to some but the highlight of another person's day. There are times when she wants to hide, and others where she longs to be noticed.
One day, she will have friends she can call her own, and they will see her smile and know how good she is. One day, she will have a chance to showcase her talents in front of her peers. She may even have that answer when the teacher calls her name, although sharing that answer may be an obstacle she will never overcome — and that's OK.
Because life isn't just about overcoming obstacles, but realizing what role each obstacle plays in the balance of life. It's about finding good to balance the bad.
It's about coming home after a hard day at school and knowing that your family loves you. It's about failing a math test, but sketching the perfect portrait of Tom Holland. It's about putting on that invisible cloak in science and finally landing your full in front of a gym full of gymnasts who all cheer loudly for a job well done.
It's about the good, the bad; the happy and the sad — and everything in between. At least that's what I'm telling my daughter.
How do you help your kids balance out life's challenges? Share your thoughts in the comments.