Silje is a bookworm. Her nose has been stuck in books since she was about 3 years old. When she attended her first day of kindergarten, and I told her to pick a book to read on the bus, she picked up Charlotte’s Web, sighed and said “I haven’t read this one in months.”
Plus…she inherited my athletic ability. So, so sorry honey.
Knut was a varsity football type of athlete. He was on the cross country ski team in high school. Now he does a regular cross country ski marathon in the winter. Me? I did track for fun…once. I enjoyed running with my friends. I got a ribbon once. It was 3rd place for a relay I was in where 3 teams competed. I was always the last back from our team’s daily run. I was also a cheerleader, and became a cheerleading captain. We weren’t a competitive group at all, though. Many of us just enjoyed going to the games, couldn’t be in any other sports, and didn’t mind yelling.
Silje’s more like me in this regard. David is a freakish athlete like his dad.
I’ve alluded to the fact I have been lost in the area of knowing what to do with Silje the last year or so. Just when things started getting better for David, she started falling apart, with several triggers playing into the mix.
It’s like she couldn’t hold herself together anymore, and all the stuff she’d been stuffing while David needed our full attention just came tumbling out. Living with special needs is hard. Living with a sibling with special needs is its own set of hard. Being the oldest is hard. Living through the middle school years, homeschooled or not, is just hard.
And I’m actually not that good at giving sympathy. I would look at how good she had it, compared to what I had to deal with at her age, and I felt like she was the furthest thing from a victim I could imagine. Comparison is a nasty thing.
As the oldest, she consistently takes on too much responsibility. She feels guilty for things that are not in her control. After the car accident, she took on too much as I was flailing in my pain, and once I started getting better, and tried to lighten the load that was obviously too heavy for her, she felt like she failed.
What ended up happening was this mix of shy/cowering and avoiding everyone when it wasn’t necessary, mixed in with loud outbursts of her not taking it anymore over the tiniest things. I wanted her to speak up and talk to me. I would spend hours every week having long conversations with her which she adored and opened up. But then she would clam up again a few hours later. Then she would open her mouth and say all sorts of disrespectful, untrue things, and when we stopped her, she would stop opening up…again, and I had to start all over trying to reach her heart. I got her a mentor. I cleared my schedule more. I was debating about getting her in some counseling for just all the stuff our family has been through the last few years.
Then she asked if she could join Tae Kwon Do with her brothers, something I had been begging her to try, and then dropped the conversation for a year or so, and now she has a sudden interest.
Now the 3 older kids just go to class twice a week together. But I’ve already seen a huge difference in her. She works on it at home. She goes to class, and comes out sweating from all the work. She says she’s never done anything so hard in her whole life and her lungs burn for air. It’s been an enormous stress-reliever for her.
Best of all, she’s learning to find her voice.
I overheard her instructor, encouraging her to yell with her kicks. Don’t be shy. Declare it. Find that voice. Make it heard. She feels so weird yelling, when she’s not mad. Her teacher in the class is female, and Silje just looks at awe of her. She told this Master Amanda her goals to catch up to her brothers and surpass them. Master Amanda is so supportive of her, just like she has been with my boys.
It’s just been a few months, but I have seen her treat me with more respect, treat our house rules with more respect, hold her chin high and not cower or have that look of uncertain fear in her, and she speaks like she’s thought about what she said first.
She’s finding her voice.
She’s letting off steam twice a week in a very physical way, and it’s changing her. It’s messing with our hold-it-in-then-explode routine we’ve been stuck in. It’s like her emotional volcano now has a pressure vent to it. I’m just loving this. I see the relief, all over her face. All her frustrations, all her stress, all her feeling invisible, gets let out as she kicks, punches, yells, and does so while gaining self-control. Seriously, I’m beginning to wonder if this is the best sport ever.
I wish I could be there, years down the road when Silje arrives at a college campus, elegant as she always is, sitting on a park bench reading a book, and a young man will come up and try to start a conversation with her. “So what are you into?”
“I love reading. I love music. I love Tae Kwon Do. I’m a blackbelt. You?”