Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chester

Two days a week, I drive my 12 year old daughter Michelle to middle school. Early in the year, we noticed a little old man walking down the street near the school. We dubbed him "Chester." I use the word "walking" loosely. Imagine someone who can no longer bend his knees. Then imagine him holding his arms up as if they are resting on a chair's armrest. He does a kind of teeter-totter side-bounce back and forth to accomplish walking, his armrest arms in the air to help keep his balance. A determined look plastered on his face, teeny, tiny side bouncing steps carry him slowly down the street toward the convenience store near my daughter's school.

We don't see him every morning, but when we do, we both sing out, "Oh, look, there's Chester!"

One morning, we were running later than usual and Chester was making his way back from the convenience store. We could see from the plastic bag he clutched in one of his raised arms that there were two tallboys in the bag. We laughed hard. No wonder Chester was so determined to make it to the convenience store -- making his daily beer run.

Being 12 years old, Michelle has recently found herself embroiled in a nasty fight with one of the Queen Bees that runs in her pack. Apparently, my daughter broke some sacred rule of the clique and is being outed. The other girls have been instructed not to speak to her. If my daughter wasn't so distraught, it might actually be funny.

Two nights ago, in near hysterics with tears streaming down her face, Michelle told me she wanted to quit school. This Queen Bee had really gotten to my usually confident child. She was absolutely beside herself. Try as I may, my words of encouragement had little affect.

Yesterday, on the way to school, I tried the pep talk again. I told her emphatically, there will always be girls like Queen Bee in her life; women in fact; women who didn't like her because she is intelligent, attractive, funny and well-liked. I told her she had to take the attitude of, "Whatever loser!" toward the Queen Bee girl. As far as the Queen's entourage was concerned, one simple question would take care of them: "Oh, so you let the Queen Bee run your life?"

Then a thought came into my head. I told her, "If we see Chester on the way to school today, it's an omen that things are going to be OK." Although he had slipped under our radar the past few trips to school, sure enough, as I turned that corner, there he was. "Chester!!" we called out in unison. She looked over at me and beamed. I swear, I could hear the "click" in her brain. Suddenly, my confident girl was back. Thank goodness!

My mother always says kids don't come with instruction books. She is right! Every day of mothering is a new adventure that often finds me making it up as I go! Thank goodness for little old men who toddle to the store everyday on a beer run. God uses everything. Sometimes you just have to be a little more creative than usual in seeing the gift in front of you.

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