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August 25, 2005 - Image 19

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2005-08-25

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■ Complete Vehicle Service
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Asher, 3, and his mother, Lynne Schreiber of Southfield, before the big day.

ners of their lips to turn up in a smile
as they remember standing on chairs
next to me and turning on the mixer,
first slowly, then faster, then giggling
as it tilts to full speed.
I want Asher to retain that rich
sense of self-discovery that he has
now, the way he looks out the window
of the car and exclaims, "Mommy,
there's a concrete mixer, just like the
one in my book!" or cocks his head
and arches his eyebrows in worry
when his cousin cries and he bends
toward her and says, "Hannah, why
are you sad?" I want him to keep
believing that a hug will correct every
ill in the world. I don't want school
and the influence of others to strip
him of that power.

Learning Compassion

I lived a typical childhood in a com-
fortable suburb. I attended public
schools where Halloween trick-or-
treating ended at the elementary down
the street, with carnival games and
bobbing for apples. I fielded the com-
mon complaints of high school —
worries about fitting in, the some-
times barbed comments of girls more
popular than I, the comfort of close
friends as we gathered in the basement
with M&Ms, popcorn and rented PG
movies like The Breakfast Club.
I remember, too, the one year that I
was a "loser" in the eyes of my peers.
It was fifth grade, and I had two
friends that I could rely on, Erica and
Alicia. Everyone else looked at me
oddly, made fun of my frizzy hair and
my rolled-up jeans that were never the
right brand. All the popular girls wore
Gloria Vanderbilt or Jordache, just the
right length.

I remember leaving my classroom
ostensibly to go to the bathroom and
instead walking to my little sister's sec-
ond-grade room and begging her
teacher as tears streaked my cheeks for
a few minutes of commiseration from
someone who truly loved me.
I remember walking home with my
little brother who was in kindergarten
and letting him carry my flute; the
Way he looked up at me made me feel
important.
That year taught me compassion.
From then on, I was the first to
approach the new kid in school who
sat nervously at her desk and bit her
nails as the teacher introduced her.
So I know that school does not nec-
essarily mean my son will take a turn
for the worse, go down that road of
unidentifyiables, leave my warm
embrace forever. School can fill in the
holes that we parents inevitably leave
empty.
Come September, I will let my little
boy go, encourage him to be brave for
the two mornings each week that I
trust him to someone else's perspec-
tive, put him in the hands of people
that I hope will care for him as much
as I do, teach him the ways of life. For
that separation is one of the points of
parenting, is it not?
We give life by giving independ-
ence, by teaching rules and also how
to discern them, by filling the back-
pack, helping him hang it on a peg
with his name written above and then
trusting that in the case of accidents,
he knows exactly what to do. ❑

Lynne Meredith Schreiber lives in
Southfield with her husband Avy and
their children, Asher and Eliana.

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8/25

2005

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