As she strode on a path in the shoes towards her father on another bench, I had a vivid ten year old memory pop in my head. It was her toddling for the first time in her Stride Rite high tops on the driveway of our first house.
It was such a precious memory. I also remember that the shoes were immediately scuffed up within minutes of wearing them - and that bothered me. And as I pulled out the pictures, I also see that huge smile on her face. Therein lies my lesson.
Riley started her middle school career today. And as I see that excitement when she was a toddler taking her first steps, what brings out her smile the most, is trying new things and stepping out away from her parents. And she is going to struggle and that is okay. My first instinct is to not have her feel pain and while George and I caught her before she fell at the toddler stage. I have to learn to let her fall at this ten year (and beyond!) stage. And pain is a part of life. And emotional pain won't kill us as I have always thought it would - it can flow through if allowed to. And we grow from those falls and mistakes. We do not learn anything from the things we do right.
So, the shoes will get scuffed, and she will learn. My shoes get scuffed on a daily basis, and I learn. I want her to know that she can handle whatever comes her way even if it is a struggle. And letting her fall, and move away from us, and gain her independence prepares her for real life much more than stopping the pain.