The other night I was putting both girls to be and after I read each of them a story, both listened enthralled but still managed to interrupt me with nonsense a few times.
Evelyn has had a hard time letting me go while falling asleep. At the foster mom nobody sat there to baby her. And she went with the flow as needed.
A month and a half into her living with us, I’ve had enough of waiting around for eyelids to drop. I have things to do too.
So I decided to slowly wean her off my dotting on her slipping into dreamland. She protested, she negotiated. She cried.
Reasoning seemed to be my last resort. Speak the boundary, the reason, the assurance, and stick to the story.
I told her mommy will never leave her. I am close by, I love her and I will always protect her. She asked me if I was ever afraid of the dark when I was little. And then, in two succinct phrases, she told me her rescue story. She was just one year old and we’ve never discussed it. I do let her process things out loud, and depending on the context her many stories emerge. And the crazy thing is that they make sense, and she speaks with such serenity.
She is a whole person, intricate, complex, a small frame holding a great soul.
I was discussing our parenting techniques again with conrad. Our stance on certain topics, our négociables and non-négociables. We are different. And I rest in his firm hand, and less flexible boundaries. Because I know his strength will come in handy. And I will feel comfortable letting him take the lead on more complex fronts later on.
Evelyn still listens the first time and obeys. Like putting pajamas on. Conrad says it once. Evelyn does. Jaclyn very rarely lately listens the first time. Though we plead with her to do otherwise.
We papered Jaclyn, her toddler years, we were exceedingly understanding, flexible, forgiving, kind. We loved not having to be boss parents. We thought we hit jackpot. She was amiable too, most often. But we didn’t strengthen any muscles of obedience. We only played the négociation game. I’m confident we need layers in parenting, and having different strengths as parents, and allowing ourselves and each other to be different, that is instrumental to growing up.
I correct Evelyn kindly but firm, the first time. She listens and gets slightly upset or embarrassed. I don’t give in to her fleeting grumpiness at my correction. I mean what I say and I say what I mean.
So, tonight, over a glass of wine, I was telling conrad how I feel that we haven’t held back, nor have we pretended with her. We haven’t tiptoed by we thoroughly enjoyed her pleasant demeanor and amiability. Her astute social queues, her kindness and appeasing presence.
Jackie asked good questions. Evelyn reads people. And understands more than most adults know.
She is now ok to remain in the bedroom without me. Jackie is there. I hear them whispering and building their sisterhood. They hold hands in bed, Jackie reaching her hand down. Ivy loves her sister more evidently than ever. They are best friends, who can finally share a room, a family, a life together. Forever.
Even if I had worked all my brain cells and powers to prepare this sisterhood, I couldn’t have obtained or anticipated such an amazing connection for them.
Our social focus and needs are fulfilled within our little family. And in the year of pandemic, this is the greatest gift of all.