We stood there. Her hand felt warm in mine.
Our eyes moved up the wall of the building. It was big….intimidating.
We were told, “trust us” and we did, because these people were genuinely nice and their motives were absolutely pure. “Trust us.” The two simple words reassured us we should be there, even if our nerves told us we should run.
We slowly walked through the double doors. It looked safe…. so we proceeded. There were smiling happy kids everywhere….. They were saying “hi” as they ran past us and it felt so good. A few of the girls came up and talked to my daughter. One of them asked if she could play at the park on Saturday. They were right…..this was good.
As we began our walk down the beautifully decorated hallway, I noticed a bunch of children heading toward a hallway which branched off close to where we were standing. It looked like fun, so we followed. My girl was able to get part way in, but as hard as she tried, she could not completely enter the hallway. The kids motioned her to come along – the adults did too. But as hard as she tried she could not penetrate this invisible wall which stood between her and the kids on the other side. Even with the ernest help of others, she could not penetrate the force which kept her out.
I began to feel uneasy, the words, “trust us” losing their ability to suppress my growing nervousness. My daughter looked up at me with a look that told me she was scared but wanted to proceed. I motioned her with a nod of my head that we would turn around. I became concerned as I began to wonder if this building would work for my daughter.
We began to follow the main hallway which grew more and more narrow and the colors more subdued. My stomach was churning with every step we took. I held out hope as I scanned ahead and saw other hallways ahead. Perhaps they would be a good fit for my little one. There was one, to the right, and as she approached the entrance, she was able to put her foot through, but could go no further.
She was stopped, again.
The main hallway continued to get more and more narrow, and eventually, the kids didn’t even notice we were there. It was as though we were invisible. The adults were trying, but it was as if our journey was coming to an end and no one could stop it. Not the greatest minds, not the most compassionate people, no one was going to be able to stop what was inevitable.
My heart began to break. I wanted my daughter to be like the other kids……I wanted her in those other hallways. Those kids wanted her too – well, at least in the beginning they did. Everyone told me she should be in those hallways and they had ideas on how it would look. But my thoughts were jarred when I began to reflect on my own doubts about this set up. Unfortunately, I had suppressed those concerns because more than anything, I deeply wanted them to be true.
So I decided to cut a hole in the invisible wall of the last hallway and push my daughter through the opening. Great, she was in. But instead of laughing and smiling, she struggled to understand what everyone else was doing. Even though all the kids were nice and being attentive to her, I could tell she felt alone in a room which did not celebrate her gifts. To her, the room was uncomfortable; it forced her to be someone she was not. So she quietly came back out to me, placing one leg after the other through the opening until the rest of her body followed.
I sat on the floor – sulking in a combination of anger and frustration. We got up and walked toward the exit of the building, exhausted from our day of countless attempts to be included. Everything I had believed in and cared about no longer was working the way I thought it would or the way they said it would, and the worst part, there was no one to blame. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t figure it out.
As we began to walk to our car I had to shade my eyes to see what lay ahead to the right of the building. It was a different place, like nothing I had ever seen or heard about.
I grabbed my sweet girl’s hand and walked quickly to its door. To my surprise – it wasn’t a door – it wasn’t a building. It was a mirage of what I wanted for my little girl and it was good. It was good because it was not confined by expectations or lack thereof. It celebrated her gifts instead of forcing her to follow others. It was all in my mind… in my own ideas….. because I suddenly realized I was completely capable of creating a great future for my daughter.
And without a doubt, I know I can trust me.