Last week children all over Massachusetts had to take the MCAS test, standardized testing in math and English that apparently reflects how state educators are doing when it comes to getting our kids' brains to absorb letters and numbers. In spite of how many times my daughter was told that her score would make no difference to her life, she was scared. Rumors were floating all around that kids who did badly would get held back or worse (imprisoned? kidnapped?), probably spread by older children to their younger sibs as a special brand of torture. I assured Risa that there would be no trick questions, and she only had to do her best. We weren't looking for her to ace this thing.
I also gave Risa "the special locket" to wear, the one she dons whenever she's feeling worried. It's a cheapo, metal locket (you can find one on Amazon for around $30) with pics of me and her dad pasted inside (as seen below).
It is the same super-power locket that I give Risa to wear when she's doing something brave, and I can't be there to support her because of a work event. I try my hardest to make it to all the performances and recitals, but sometimes I can't be there. Often my husband can step up as the family rep - but not always. Allowing her to wear the locket is a way for her to feel I (along with her Dad) am there in spirit. It's not the same as me being there in the flesh, and I don't pretend it is. It stinks for both of us when I am not in the audience clapping my hands off and shooting proud-mama beams. But it does remind her she is loved by two people who are always rooting for her.
I make sure the locket stays special by keeping it in my jewelry box and making a big deal of presenting it to Risa the night before the big event. She has told me that when she's nervous before going "on," she holds the locket in her hands, cracks it open, takes a peek at, and feels comforted right away. And, of course, that brings me comfort, and ails at least a little of that brutal working-mama guilt.