Day by day I notice myself in her expressions and preferences. There is one area, though, in which I cannot relate.
It wasn't until I was at least a quarter of a century in age before I was even close to comfortable inviting someone new into my world. Even then, it was a big step for me.
A while ago my daughter was at a party with a group of familiar people when she invited a little boy at the next table in the park to play. It seemed if anyone came along that she didn't know, she would eagerly invite them in.
I've seen her approach many strangers at the park. Even asking teenagers to play tag. She constantly asks people their names.
And it baffles me. It is so different than my own actions as a child. My shyness was already quite strong by two years of age. Eye contact was difficult. Asking any questions was torture.
As I watch her grow and learn I have to remember something important. I can't let my stained view of past events and situations determine how those same situations would effect my confident child.
Because she is not me.
Yes, when the little boy refused to talk to her and she questioned why, she was confused and curious. But that doesn't mean she was feeling the pain of rejection that tormented me for years. She doesn't know the deep sorrow of feeling like no one is actually truly there. And I don't want my face and my reaction to tell her it should bother her more than it does.
Maybe he was shy. Maybe he was grumpy from being tired or hungry. Maybe his parents told him not to talk to people he didn't know. Maybe he just found her too cute. Or too confident.
Yes, when the friend played with her well until a closer friend came along, she didn't understand the sudden change. She just wanted to keep having fun. But that doesn't mean she spiraled into a snow-ball of thoughts of why she wasn't good enough. She doesn't have the constant worry that she is failing in her actions. And I don't want to be over concerned for her and make her surmise that it is her fault.
Maybe she is a good enough friend but the other friend needs more attention. Maybe they had plans to get together and were excited to see each other. Maybe people take turns with their affections and it would come back again.
Maybe, just maybe, we need not over analyze. Imagine that! Imagine the freedom in just letting it go. Moving on. Enjoying the next opportunity.
My tendency to overthink can lead to a habit of over explaining. But sometimes an in depth explanation is unnecessary. Life is too short. And full of opportunity. Opportunity I missed when too busy questioning why or why not.
I am certain as she ages it will bring up more issues from my past. Her world is not my world and I'm heading into the unknown but I know there are certainties. Rejection. Misunderstanding. Heartache. Failure.
But she doesn't have to be ruled by these things as she comes across them. She doesn't have to let them disable her. She doesn't have to let them direct her future.
Life is a stressful place. But looking at my daughter as she enjoys getting out, enjoys new things, enjoys people, enjoys life, I must remember that growing up I missed out on many opportunities to live. Just because I didn't experience life like that myself does not mean that I can't accommodate a treasured childhood in my offspring.
She's freckled and tall. Creative and curious. Observant and analytical. In touch with animals and nature.
But she is not me.