On Saturday, we went to a friend's birthday party. They had some little games for the kids, and the winners received prizes. Katie did not win, and I definitely noticed how well she handled herself at the party. There was no fussing or complaining; as far as I could tell, she didn't even notice that she didn't win anything. I kind of forgot about it, but as she was getting ready for bath, the tears started coming.
"Mommy, I didn't win a special treat!" "I wish I were (the little girl who did win)" Copious tears, grief, pain...breaking my heart.
It was such a little thing, and no, we don't really need more coloring books at our house. My first thought, of course, was "I can fix this!" But the teachable moment won out, and we had a chance to talk about what happens when things don't go your way.
Because all I could think, as she cried in my lap, was how this is probably the first in a long line of endless disappointments for her. Sometimes, it will be because mentally or physically, she didn't cut it (like the games at the party). There will always be someone smarter or faster. But at least as many times, if not more, it will be no fault of hers at all. She will simply not be what they are looking for in a role, in a job, in a spouse.
When Katie said she wanted to be the other little girl who won, my first thought was to compare. "Well, she doesn't have a little sister, and you do." But comparison is not the answer, because you're putting someone down to feel better. Susan pointed out later that if I can teach Katie to find her worth in the fact that God created her just the way she is, it'll help with the "not cutting it" situation. But that wasn't on my mind on Saturday.
As she sat on my lap, I told Katie that in the end, God had a better plan for her.
Whatever plans she makes in her life, God knows the one that will best for her, and He'll guide her down that path. Sometimes it'll be smooth, and sometimes it'll be a slammed door in her face. I wish with all my heart Katie would learn now to accept that, because it would save her so much grief and heartache. But I think that's one of those lessons that's best learned the hard way, and the long way.
Since I can't make her learn this lesson, I suppose my job as the parent is to tell the stories, over and over again, of how God brought His plan to fruition in my life, sometimes against my wishes, and how it ended up being the very best plan. And to hold Katie when she cries.