A Double Measure of Grace

Once upon a time, there was a little girl.

Her name was Aden, and she was very beautiful and very, very naughty…

……….

Aden means Beautiful in Hebrew and Fiery in Celtic. And I never, ever, ever believe people when they say names don’t mean anything, because, Hello, my Beautiful and Fiery girl!

Oh, Miss Aden, how I love you.

A year ago at this time, the anticipation was killing me – Killing Me! – because my baby girl was coming off of a couple of creative school suspensions, and she was headed to a week away at Girls Camp, and I didn’t know how it would go. I didn’t know if she’d make it through the week because an entire week is a long time in which to be kind and to try to make friends and to flick no one in the face.

I spent the week Aden was away at Girls Camp with bated breath.

Argh! I just hate that place in mamahood where we don’t know! Have you visited that place? That place where we wonder if we’ll look back someday and giggle at their crazy childhood antics… or whether we’ll have to bake cookies for prison visitation day? It’s a hard mental mama place. 

But she did it! Oh, my Aden girl rocked that camp and didn’t burn anything down. She was awesome.

And here we are, a year later.

A whole year later.

A year of Not Knowing.

A year of Breath Holding.

A year of Wondering.

A year that slowly morphed, as Aden learned to communicate and to be kind and to make friends, into a year of Trusting.

A year of Courage.

A year of Pats on the Back.

And a year of Earning Privileges.

Oh, the difference a year can make!

Aden came home the last day of school with a note. It was a scrap of plain white paper cut from a bigger sheet, photocopied and obviously distributed to masses of children. It was, clearly, nothing special.

Aden handed me the note beaming. Glowing with fierce pride. I scanned the message, I handed it back, and I asked Aden to read it out loud because I knew I couldn’t do it without choking up.

Congratulations! Aden read. This student has had no major or minor referrals this year.

No major OR minor referrals this year. 

No suspensions.

No hitting.

No flicking.

No visiting the principal’s office.

A year of Working Hard to Make Miracles.

A year of WOW!

Aden stood on her chair at dinner that night to read her note out loud, and our entire family gave her a standing ovation that held not even the tiniest stitch of irony.

Aden leaves on Sunday for camp again. Year #2 of Girls Camp! Last year, I was worried. And though this entire essay paints the picture that I was mostly worried about her behavior, I think you’ll be unsurprised to learn that my worry was for my baby. Because Aden was headed into a place filled to the brim with potential friends, and though she’d begun to understand the methods and application of Appropriate Behavior, she didn’t yet know how to cross the Bridge of Friendship. But she so desperately longed for a friend. And nine years is sure a long time to go without one.

Dear God, I prayed. Help her. Please. Please, please, please help her. Help her negotiate this tricky Girl World. Help her to be kind. Help her find forgiveness when she makes mistakes. But mostly, God, help my baby girl find her way. Help her find the way to be her truest, deepest self. Help her find the spunky, confident, funny kid she is… full of fire and passion and beauty. And help her find a friend. 

And then there was Grace.

There, in the middle of camp, grace in the shape of an 8-year-old girl who doesn’t like to brush her hair and who hates chocolate and who rolls her eyes in great big, sweeping eye rolls and who is wise and compassionate beyond her years – Grace grabbed Aden’s heart and didn’t let go.

Grace gave Aden a real shot at a real friendship.

And Grace has continued to hold Aden close and to treasure her and to encourage her and to push her to excel and to love her true, crazy self, the way that the very best girlfriends do.

Grace.

Her name, for real, is Grace.

And Aden made a second good friend this year.

Guess what her name is?

Grace. Her name is Grace, too.

It makes me want to sit down for beers with God – to collapse bonelessly and breathlessly  into our regular booth at the pub – and clink our bottles and shake my head in amazement and smile through my weary, happy tears and say, “Good one, God. Really, really good one. That was just extraordinarily well played.” Clink.

Because you know what? In the midst of my lowest mama moments of worry and confusion and fear and angst – the ones when I didn’t know and hated the Not Knowing – God knew.

God knew that Aden needed a double measure of Grace.

And that I did, too.

………

Once upon a time, there was a little girl.

Her name was Aden, which means Beautiful and Fiery. And she had two friends named Grace…

……….

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
19 comments
  1. Dangit, Beth! The tears. You’re kinduv a jerk sometimes. And I love you and your kids.

  2. I’m rereading this essay and like the first time it has brought me to tears.
    I love how you wrote it, how God orchestrated it and how it gives me hope.
    It makes me want to sit down and chat with you and be encouraged that there will be a Grace in my daughter’s life too.
    It makes me want to meet Aden too!
    Thank you as always for writing so beautifully and truthfully.

  3. I so understand; the praying, the waiting, the wondering if they will be okay. My precious 6 year old boy longs for a friend. A true, deep down in your heart friend and I long for it too. I know God is good and in charge and able to take care of it all. But we hurt with them too don’t we? I’ll keep on praying! Thanks for sharing Aden’s story. 🙂

  4. I just cried through this post. Hurray for Aden!!!! I realize this was months ago but I can so feel your heart praying for that friend for her – and the joy of having found two. Two friends named Grace.
    Thanks for sharing this. I needed a reminder of Grace tonight.
    M –

  5. […] with her best friend, Katee, and her parents. This time, Aden and I were thrilled Heidi and Grace agreed to join […]

  6. how awesome is this?!?!?!!!

  7. […] wide-eyed and slack-jawed, and intent on charging her brain to Full Rot before she went away to camp for the week where there are – gasp – No Screens At […]

  8. Ok I really need to know how you got from suspensions to no major or minor referrals, ’cause we’re still groping in the dark with Anneliese( which means gracious of gift of God) our 9 year old, she absolutely hates school and every year it gets worse! She can be the most sweet loving child, but then you tell her she needs to something that is not her idea and she turns ugly! Hoorah!! for Aden by the way!

    1. Oh goodness… do you ever wish, like I do, that those stupid fairies would quit hogging all the magical powers in the world and loan us weary mamas a wand to fix JUST ONE THING?

      I so wish I had The Solution, but the bitter truth I’m coming to discover about parenting is the fact that the magic lies in Walking Through the Muck Together and in taking years to Assemble a Village so we’re not so alone and in doing Hard Work and then doing Hard Work Again and then doing Hard Work Again. Pfftttt… it’s not nearly as good as the Magic Wand would be.

      And the other trouble with parenting is that, even though we found a pass through this particular mountain range, there’s going to be another mountain to climb any second now, so we’re not done.

      Gosh, I feel like such a downer!

      I will say that one of our philosophies of parenting is to Keep Trying New Things. Of course, that’s exhausting, and sometimes the new things don’t work, but at least we FEEL like we’re not stuck with the same old, same old bad situation. Our kids have attended lots of different schools in our area, and we’ve called a thousand meetings with teachers and school counselors and principals, and had evaluations done in schools and doctors’ offices, and we’ve made utter nuisances of ourselves, but we have, eventually (sometimes after years), gotten each kid into the classrooms where they could learn (including learning appropriate behavior).

      Nobody tells you that girls aged 8 and 9 are going through tremendous hormonal changes. For both of my girls, ages 10-13 have been WAY EASIER than 8 and 9. I’ll hope that your Ms. A, like my Ms. Aden at age 9, is nearing the mountain pass and that you’ll find relief soon.

      Sending x’s and o’s,
      B

  9. Wow, that made me cry. As a teacher, I appreciate the reminder that kids can grow and change…even the ones that drive us crazy. Thank you.

  10. I shed tears of joy and thankfulness to our Lord Jesus for the grace he showed to your Aden! His grace embodied in two girls named Grace. Yep, that’s a good one!
    Your post reminded me to give thanks once again for the ‘Grace’s’ in my life. His grace that came embodied in women named Tanya and Sonya, and a man named Scott. I think many of us need a ‘Grace’, and many are called to be a ‘Grace’.
    Oh Lord, may I be faithful to be grace when you call me.

  11. Maybe I can comment through my tears…….Awesome post. God is so good. BTW, I have a beautiful almost 6 year old grandaughter named…….Grace.
    So happy for and proud of Aden!

  12. So sweet! Brought tears to my eyes. Every little girl deserves a Grace in her life and how wonderful for your Aden to find 2! Very well written.

  13. My youngest daughter’s name is Cathy, but she is both fiery and beautiful, too. We haven’t braved Girl’s Camp for her, yet … next year, I think. Similar to your Aden, she joined us later in her life.

    Her best friend’s name … Gracie … lots of Grace!

    (BTW, tell Greg “hi” from his Boys Camp counselor.)

  14. What can I say except ‘Holy crap this is brutiful!’ Grace… it’s so always extraordinarily well played, clink.

  15. That was so beautiful!

  16. This grabbed my heart. Yay, God! And a very big ”YAY!” for Aden and her newfound graces and Graces!

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