As the adult in the relationship, I am amazed at how much I learn from Carson. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? I mean, sure, it is. I teach her hygiene, economics, and manners. However, I teach her concepts that she really could learn from a book. What I learn from her is far greater. She teaches me, or reminds me, to want to live life better: with more confidence, more adventure, and more pleasure.
Confidence: Carson is the most confident person I know. Trust me, she did not get that from me. I know that I feign confidence because I am outgoing and loud, but underneath that ostentatious appearance is a woman who often worries and questions herself. Carson, though, does not worry or question herself. She has the fortitude to carry out any challenge that she faces. Even when she tries something and doesn’t particularly end up liking it, or she finds that she isn’t good at it, that doesn’t seem to upset her. She gave it a try. I do not know if it is because she is bright or because she started dancing and performing in front of people at a young age; I do know, though, that her strength of spirit and self-possession take a strong-hold in every facet of her life.
Here is an example. I never saw her as much of a team athlete, but then last summer, she decided she wanted to play fast-pitch softball, so she did. She was not the best girl on the team, but she worked hard and improved. After each game on the way home, she would do some self-evaluation and look at her own strengths and weaknesses. By the time we got home, she would feel proud of how she performed and resolute to do even better the next game.
This past week, she was one of ten kids picked from grades four-eight to be in the school GeoBee. It is kind of like a Spelling Bee, with an eventual national competition. Carson was determined to perform well, so she studied geography every day. Although she did not win, she was able to look at the situation in a positive light. She gave the effort.
Adventure: Secondly, she has a wonderful sense of adventure. For the past few summers she has gone to day-camps. She has found camps that interest her. I remember the first year she brought home information about Padua Day Camp. She was nine. I looked it over, and it seemed reasonably priced for what she would be doing.
I asked, “Who else do you know who is going?” Of course, I assumed she wanted to go because her friends were all talking about it.
“I don’t know. Maybe no one,” she replied.
“And you don’t mind going by yourself?” I remember trying to deliver this statement casually because I did not want to trigger an alarm in her head. I did not want her to think that I did not believe she could not or should not go unless she knew other kids.
“I don’t mind, Mom. I think it looks like fun.” It was settled. Carson was going to camp, possibly without knowing anyone else, and she did not care. To her, it was a chance to do something she had never done before.
Pleasure: Most importantly, Carson enjoys life. Of course, she enjoys vacations, playing, and dancing. Yet, it is the day-to-day I often think she relishes in more. She does not see routine as drudgery because each day brings something new into her life. She does not view school as monotony because she loves the acquisition of knowledge. She has true excitement in her voice when she tells me some idea or concept that she has acquired that puts her life, or just life in general, into a new context.
“Hey, Mom, guess what?”
“Did you know Budapest was really two cities? It has been around since like One AD, but it was always Buda and Pest. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that it became one city. That’s not really that long ago. Isn’t that cool?”
“Yes, Honey, it is.” What is more cool is that she thinks it is cool.
Thus, I want to emulate my daughter and trust in myself and experiences more, adventure out into the unknown, and feel delight.