The before-school mornings have now turned intractably toward dark, the air nippy at the bus stop. My older daughter argues against going to school. The truth is, I hated high school, I hated middle school, I hated elementary school, I probably even hated nursery school, the whole she-bang of schooling until I hit college. I remember insufferable boredom, staring through the windows in third grade at azure autumn skies, and wanting to be in the woods. I longed for the smell of dead leaves against my face. I’m sympathetic and yet, apparently, not that sympathetic. Still, I often stew about this daughter all day.
Driving along Route 15, as it follows the Lamoille River, I glanced up where sunlight crashed through a jumble of clouds, gray and black and white, as though the weather were confused, too. The light descended in immense heavenly shafts. Woodbury Mountain was scattershot with gold patches, intermingled gray where the foliage has already passed. Sprawled along the river was the transfer station, that pestilent site radiantly bathed in October light.
This afternoon, my daughter was glowing when I met her at the high school. She had been charged with a particularly difficult task, and there was no way she was getting out of this assignment. She sensed a real challenge, but one she could tackle, too, with no escape hatch, no back door possibility of complaining enough to me so I’d cut her slack and let her off the hook.
Buckling in for the drive home, she relayed with real joy a compliment she had been given. I, she said, am a shining star.
(My daughter) was sixteen years old. I hoped someday she’d remember how it felt, how invincible, how alive. I’d heard it said that one tenth of parenting is making mistakes; the other nine are prayer and letting go.
— Justin Cronin, “My Daughter and God”