“Take a stand!” I urged a freshman in a conference during office hours just this morning. “Your paper is wishy-washy. You readers want you to have an opinion and support it with evidence from your research!” “But,” she pleaded, “What if I have mixed feelings?” I urged her to try to quantify her mixed feelings as a percentage and go with the side that’s higher. “But what if it’s fifty-fifty?” Well. Then you go with your gut and support the side that feels right this morning.
My son has been going to preschool for about two weeks now. He finds it more intimidating than daycare, I think because he doesn’t know the teachers very well. He clings to my leg as I drop him off, even though I know in 5 minutes he’ll be consumed with some great activity stinging beads or cutting out stars or painting in an artsy little smock. He doesn’t cry as he once did but he looks pitiful, beseeching me with sad little pleading eyes. “I want to be with you!” he whispers. Ouch. I want him to be independent. I want to consol him. I want him to be able to take care of himself. I want to take care of him. I have…mixed feelings.
As he clings to my leg and I know it is getting late and with my eye on the clock I hear myself saying to the preschool teacher, “When do they grow out of this” and I instantly regret it. I suddenly have visions of my 15-year-old son darting out the door with his friends and/or (yikes!) girlfriend and there I am asking if he wants to hang out or go to a movie over the weekend and he laughs. I have visions of my 25 year old son saying he’ll visit soon (just like I did with my parents) knowing full well “soon” is relative. I have visions of my 35-year-old son saying, “I’m not sure if we make Thanksgiving this year, we are just so busy…”
I look at my clinging little boy and try to enjoy the moment as I get late for work and the preschool teachers look at me reproachfully for prolonging the goodbye moment. I hug him again. “He’ll be fine in 15 minutes,” they say. “ I know” I say. “That’s what I’m afraid of.” They look a question at me. I smile. This is me taking my stand, and it feels right this morning.