Let me tell you about kid number 2.
Kid number 2 is a bright, pure light. When she walks into a room, not only does SHE smile, but everyone smiles. The pets smile. Heck, inanimate objects smile. Kid number 2 is a force of joy. And maybe that's why I worry so much.
OK, to be fair, I generally worry so much. It's a thing I do. Telling me not to worry about my kid would be like telling a zebra not to worry about its kid and we all know how much zebras worry about their kids. Worry is one of the primary job elements of a parent -- I once asked my parents (after I had "grown up") when they stopped worrying about me and the response was "We'll tell you when it happens." But there are different flavors of worry. My elder is in the army so I worry. She is barely 20 and she is walking around carrying a gun. I would prefer that she not walk with scissors so the whole gun thing makes me want to buy some Rogaine so I can grow some hair so I can lose my hair from worry. But that's the kind of worry that is prompted by the natural growing up. My worry about number 2 is a bit different.
First off, I worry because she is a happy soul in a sad and angry world. The world beats down happiness and I can't protect her from the "winds of heaven that would visit her face too roughly". And I see when the world dulls her shine. I see her when the girl drama that comes from having teen-aged girls interact with other teen-aged girls swallows her up with petty squabbles and political in-fighting. I see when school and life, with their incessant demands keep her from enjoying the process of living. I see her when she is most alone, sad and vulnerable, when her inner-joy, exhausted by the attempts to drown it, simply gives up, if only for a time. So I worry.
I worry because she takes the weight of it all onto her shoulders. She gives up what she has claim to so that others will be happy. She allows others to be put first because she cares more about their satisfaction than about some phantom dream of success. She takes all the anger, pain and sorrow and internalizes it. Now, maybe you will suggest that she is "too sensitive" and that things shouldn't get to her. But you know what, that sensitivity is her strength. She feels, for herself and for others and I wouldn't have her change that for anything. Does it mean that some things rise to the level of drama that others might be able to slough off? Maybe, but it means that she can read a situation with a precision that eludes those others because her various -pathy skills are more finely sharpened.
So when she comes to me saying that she doesn't feel good, or well for that matter, I worry even more. A headache here, a stomach ache there and I start worrying. Is she stressed out because of life, or because life is beating her down? Is she cracking under the strain of trying not to crack? Is there something real and physical which I need to catastrophize about (because I, naturally, do)? Is it because she watches too much television (that girl will grow up and go into television show development, just so she can greenlight shows so that she will have something to binge watch). Is it that such a pure, shining light is contraindicated in a world like this that has gone to seed so something bad is certainly to happen? And when she demands, I worry because she is calling out saying, "I never ask for anything so just give me this one!" But sometimes, even that one is a bad idea and I have to say "no" and be more reason for her to be sad. Yes, it is my job to say "no" as a parent, but it is tough to say "no" to someone who is so frequently willing to say, "no thanks."
But she is also my hope for the future. She is not angry and she is not giving up. She is why I believe that the next generation can turn this wreck of a planet around and make it sing, if one could imagine planets sing. I see her joy when she dances for no reason, and makes jokes with her dizzying intellect, and I see her insightfulness when she asks questions and wants to understand her world. I see her interact with adults and children with a practiced maturity which allows her to connect with all others. She laughs and the world can't but laugh with her and she dreams big and works to make dreams come true.
So I worry. I worry about her day-to-day existence, her future and prospects, her friendships and her challenges. Will she find a love worthy of her and will fortune allow her to be what she wants to be. I worry about each complaint and setback. I worry about how sad she is, even when she is happy, and I hope that maybe, in some magical way, my worrying will take some of the pressure off of her and put it on to me. Here's to my second kid -- the cause of, and solution to, much of my worrying.