I wrote reminders on my daughter's hand yesterday: I love her, she sparkles, is a star, and to me, a rainbow
My daughter’s first day of Kindergarten was yesterday. She was scared the night before. It’s her second school in four months. Both in a new country. Since infancy, she has been in seven different schools; she’s only five.
Change isn’t new for the little girl. I carried her inside me across continents; she was ‘Made in Kenya' and born in America. Before she was born, she had been in three countries. My daughter started ‘school’ (daycare) at the tender age of four months. Even then, I was told she was "intense.” Intense infant. Intense child.
I tell others, “she’s either intensely happy, or intensely not.” There’s not a lot of middle ground with her.
She was born with her eyes wide open: this is truth; not a hyperbole. Actually, I think she was intense before she arrived into the bright hospital light.
Every Friday morning, when pregnant, I drove to the hospital for non-stress test monitoring of my daughter. They needed to measure her movements. She liked to sleep in the mornings. I had to wake her up. So, after chai and a snicker doodle, the sugar rush stirred her. Jumps. Hiccups. With a smile, I’d lie down on the hospital bed and sing to her. Just to keep her up. I wanted her results to be good, but that meant kicking her out of her routine. Even then, I knew her. I knew how to wake her up. And boy, would she wake.
She still has a sweet tooth for “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” chai, and snicker doodles. She rolls her eyes back in her head, coos, “This is heaven.” She feels: intensely, strongly. It’s no surprise she thinks she’s electric. She’s all spark. A live wire.
My daughter shocks me. She’s brave; knows herself. She speaks freely, openly (on her own terms only) about her feelings. “I felt so, so sad. And so, so lonely. And then, suddenly, I was happy!” she says about her first day of school yesterday. When my daughter speaks, her muscles, her tendons seem to light, to move, with each emotion. Her face, so expressive. She contorts.
Sometimes I think she can’t possibly hold all of what’s going on inside of her. It’s like she’ll burst. It scares me. I don’t understand how she can let such fire burn through her, unabashedly. I’ve never been so free. I’ve never lived so loud. I feel like a whisper next to her.
I love her. I navigate with her. She teaches me. I’m sure all mothers say this about their children.
Still, this intense little soul – whose soul is not little at all – smiled deeply at yesterday’s reminder “you’re star dust. You sparkle. You’re special. I love you,” while hugging her in front of the Kindergarten classroom. Something shifted. Her eyes flickered. A gulp. Her back more resolute. A concerted stare. Quiet and contemplative, as though summoning her bravery. She was ready to go. “You’re OK now?” I asked. A small, yet firm, nod. I put her down. Kissed her.
She walked through the door, holding another girl’s hand, right on into the next chapter of her life: real school; big girl school; big girl life in a big, big, world; all within a new, spinning, green country, that’s rewriting its own story, just as my daughter’s story unravels in the palm of my hand.