When her teacher told me to get her into Gam Saffah, so that she would be able to learn how rules worked, how to sit in a circle with everyone else, how to color in the lines and speak Hebrew fluently, I thought, Good. She won't go through what I went through, to figure it all out. No one will take advantage, no one will abuse my dreamy little girl the way I, ever the dreamer, ever not living in the present, was taken advantage of and abused.
But now I am not so sure.
Someone wise once told me that the worst thing that a parent can do is live through their children. I always thought that this was meant in terms of ambition, like those mothers who live through their daughters who are child actors or pageant queens.
But maybe it also means that we should not see ourselves in our children, because our reflections can block the real light that they are casting.
Because, she is not me. She is she.
Is it the way that you are like me, little girl, or the way that you are unlike me that I love best?
"Um...um...Ima! I can't remember the word! Ima!"
And I feel with you in that. I lose words, too, when they are most important. I get teary-eyed when you do that, little girl, and when I tuck you in at night I give you extra kisses.
You look expectantly towards the ceiling when directed to find your shoes near the couch, and my nickname was Space Cadet when I was little, coined when I went down to the basement to get a case of plastic spoons and emerged an hour later bearing a lone jar of mayonnaise.
You are bewildered by large groups, and I remember, after most of junior high was crowded in social confusion and hiding books and sketch pads underneath school books, deciding that to become popular was simply a question of science, and I figured it out like a formula. (Then promptly lost interest.)
You are so like me, my little girl, my Coco-pop.
And then I see your brown button eyes, so unlike my narrow green ones. Your auburn hair--I was blonde at your age--the tiny mole beside your upturned nose that you got from your Abba. You see things that I would never see, because you are not me. You are you, I sometimes realize with a start, when you surprise me with a thought that I would never think.
You are you.
I love you, my little sweet girl, my monkey-in-the-middle. Just like me.
I love you when you surprise me by being you.
I need to think if Gan Saffa is something that I need to heal my own kindergarten self, or something you, my-daughter-who-is-not-me, needs.
I need to clear the mirror, and look straight at you.
And you know?
I love you--the whole you--best.