September 11th, 2011 is the tenth anniversary of my eldest daughter Kysa’s first day of preschool. Ten years ago, Kysa was a very thoughtful, but somewhat shy little four-year old girl. Today she is still extremely thoughtful. Her shyness disappeared shortly after entering school. So far it shows no signs of returning.
Being the first child of four, Kysa received a fair amount of extra first child attention. Firstborn children are often greeted with new parent oversight that vacillates between excessive nurturing to oppressive smothering. Firstborn children quickly learn someone is always watching them.
Even if their surveillance is nurturing, perpetual parental oversight tends to imply high expectations. Consequently, firstborn children usually spend less time trying to gain attention as they do trying to live a life worthy of the attention they are being given. It is not surprising that many firstborn are self-labeled perfectionists.
In the first few years of her life, Kysa didn’t have to use many words to get our attention. Instead of screaming “Mom, mom, mom!” across the crowded playground, she would simply turn and look in our direction. A nod or quick affirmation from her mother or me gave her sufficient motivation to make her next move. I remember watching Kysa carefully navigate the twisty slide steps while less reserved children pushed by her. I couldn’t help but feel trepidation concerning how she would fare in school.
“When she is away from us, who will watch over our beautiful, thoughtful, shy little girl. As a new parent, the thought of Kysa experiencing a life outside of our oversight seemed foreign and even frightening. This is one of the reasons I keenly remember her first day of preschool, September 11th, 2001.
It was our first big day. Her first day to head out into the big unknown world and my first day to entrust her into a world that extended far beyond my watchful eyes. As much as every parent must learn to guard, protect and defend, they must also learn to release, surrender and entrust their child into God’s care.
With her new oversized backpack securely fitted to her back, I watched my Kysa head off to preschool, into the uncertainty of a life yet to be discovered, into a life impossible to control.
There were other events that happened on September 11th, 2001. Events that also should and will be remembered. My ten year commemoration will be different.
I will not give terrorists, liars, murderers, and thieves the privilege of defining September 11th. No, today I will give my best words to life, hope, and love. I will speak of my love for God, my love for family, and my love for God’s creation. I will proclaim my indomitable confidence in the goodness of God.
On September 11th 2001, my eldest daughter Kysa went to her first day of preschool. She came home smiling and full of joy! That picture of joy is where I will begin and end the day. . . after the planes crash, the buildings crumble and the tears flow, I chose to hold onto the memory of my shy little girl’s first big adventure into the great big wonderful unknown.