Sunday, July 26, 2009

Into the deep

I've never been in an abusive relationship so I'm not sure if I can fairly claim this metaphor but it startled me to realize it this weekend:

Sometimes I parent E as an abuse victim. This child, this spirited creature, this passionate heartfelt body-flinging girl I call my Crazy Monkey, she keeps me on my guard. Her joys are so joyous and the inverse is that her upsets are so despairing, so loudly despairing. I plan like a battered woman. I see worst-case scenarios; triggers to avoid; I plan Plan Bs and I plan distractions and I anticipate potential reactions not just like a mom who has her daughter's feelings in mind but like a woman afraid of what feelings will be unleashed upon her.

Yes, she's an open powder keg but I don't give her enough credit.

This weekend we had two invitations to play at a pool. I thought my my E who screams if water touches her face; my E who never left the kiddie pool when we were on vacation earlier in the month; my E whose screams can leave my ears ringing. I didn't accept either invitation until after I discussed them with E.

Her response: Well, I'll go. But I'm NOT getting in the big pool. I'm staying in the kiddie pool and my friends can play with me there or I'm not playing with them.

And so, with some trepidation and dread in my heart and with briberous new pool floatie toys in my car, we went.

The child double-floatied but then, with that extra piece of armor, she spent 3.5 hours in water where she couldn't touch bottom. And she didn't want my hands on her. And she never stuck her face in, but she laughed and she giggled and she splashed. And she repeated that feat today.

The other child? The one I never worried about in water? She never actually got wet. Yesterday L spent the entire afternoon eating the contents of two families' food coolers. And today, she wrestled with her friend and terrorized a dog and again, ate her weight.

But my Crazy Monkey: I told her and I told her and I told her again how proud I was of her courage and willingness to jump in where toes wouldn't help her. And she just said, like it was that simple: Well, yesterday I decided to be a really good swimmer.

Maybe that's it. Maybe it's that simple. She's full of surprises, that kid. And when she doesn't fill me with terror, she fills me with wonder. Pin It


bluecottonmemory said...

It's amazing how we anticipate our children's responses by their struggles and previous reactions. We provided the training wheels that ultimately let them fly.

When my oldest son was 4, he was shy, like I was when I was his age. Instead of pushing him into social situations, making him uncomfortable, I'd say, "We're going to so and so's house. You can hang around me until you feel comfortable. That's o.k."

It wasn't long before he was telling me that line on the way to play dates. After he acclimated himself to surroundings, he go play.

It looks like you're doing such a great job letting your girls grow wings to fly!

ConverseMomma said...

You are such a good mom. You know I too have a spirited child, and sometimes, like now, I feel like I disengage. I'm going through my reader while he makes an imaginary cake in the sink. I know i should be with him, but I'm just so tired from the escapades of the morning.