Today Henry and I took Annabelle to meet her new preschool teachers–she starts on Monday if we can get up in time. It’s a french immersion school and after greeting her teachers with “bon jour!” she and Henry ran off and played. I nearly had to bite my fist (ala Lenny in Laverne and Shirley) to keep from weeping.
I have so many conflicting emotions. I want her to live a slow-paced relaxed life in her own rhythm. And I want her to learn and grow in ways I can’t teach her. I want to give her the gift of learning another language fluently. My mom is Mexican and teaches Spanish but she never taught us and I always wished I’d grown up bilingual and learned a third language in high school. As it was, I took French, studied in Paris, and it never really clicked. I learned some Arabic through belly dancing and traveling to Egypt, but I basically can only speak in song lyrics, and phrases like “I”m burning with the fire of jealousy” don’t often come in handy when in other countries.
The language that finally clicked for me was Italian. I studied it in Florence for a summer and took it every day at UCLA. The beauty and warmth of that language just does it for me. It’s FUN. I’d much rather say “francobollo” than “stamp.” But alas, Italian isn’t a common language when you live in the U.S. so I’m VERY rusty, but I do plan to continue my studies there someday, perhaps while studying cooking and dancing through a field of sunflowers.
But back to Annabelle. One of my favorite memories of her this summer is standing in a field of golden and crimson sunflowers bigger than her on the Vineyard. She looked like one of them, so happy, so vibrant, so sassy and beautiful.
And she’s my daughter, my daughter who is ready to spend a few hours a week away from Mom; my daughter who is ready to play with other children her age and develop relationships with other adults outside her family; my daughter who makes me laugh and breaks my heart a million times a day. I want to protect her forever. I want to give her the world. I want to be the one who comforts her and wipes away her tears. I don’t want to miss out on her Elvis impersonations and her impromptu dance numbers on the kitchen table. But I know she’s not just mine, and there are others who will teach her things I can’t, and enjoy her and protect her and love her. I want her to sprout her own wings, but it doesn’t mean I can’t break down and sob after she goes to sleep, does it?
She’s getting so big, my sunflower.