Happily, this is one of those cases where the perfect is often the enemy of the good, so there's no reason to stop trying to make the lives of the children we love good. But I think one of the things it's most important to teach the kids in our lives--whether we're their parents or godparents or adult friends or aunts/uncles or what--is that it is okay when they have to scrap the plan they made for themselves, either because they find that they cannot do it, or because they find that they no longer want to. Nobody likes being wrong, but we're all going to be; it matters how you go on when you find that you've achieved your dreams by age 20, or when you find that you never will achieve them. The plans you make are part of the person you are, but not the sum total, and not always in their execution. Sometimes you need the outline so you can ignore the outline. Sometimes you need to stop outlining for a bit. It's okay. And even when it's not okay, it's okay.
Vertigo, for example: not okay. If I had to write out a life plan upon reaching the age of majority, I would not have written down, "2008: life eaten by vertigo. 2009: cucumber sandwiches and tisane." And if I could draw my little proofreader's mark there and move straight on to the cucumber sandwiches and tisane, I would. But as much as I sometimes wail that I miss myself, I'm still here, and part of who I am is how I do this year before we get to the little pastries with hazelnuts in. I'm finding out what I miss now, and I'm finding out what I find ways to do. I doubt that I'll be glad of this stuff, exactly, but I can do something with it. I can go somewhere from here. And I am concerned with any narrative we teach children that ends with wailing, "Doom, doooooom!" Mostly I want to whisper in their ears, "You can survive the doom. And put some dill in with the cucumbers; it helps."
markgritter helped me do the oven parts so I could make brownies today, and some of them went in a very tiny, barely perceptible way to make the life of a kid I love better. Robin will not remember, when he is 40, that Auntie mrissa sent brownies for after-school snacks for his second week of first grade. But right now he likes brownies. And right now when I couldn't think of anything incremental to do to make getting through the vertigo easier, I thought, well, I could make brownies. And I did, and then there were brownies; if it didn't fix anything else, it fixed the lack of brownies. Possibly this is a sign of my small and trivial mind. I'm okay with that. Brownies make the house smell better than grand symbols do.