“Why did you do that?”

This question doesn’t get real answers often. It’s like a rhetorical question, for kids. And I try not to ask it. But it slips our lips more often than I’d like to admit. Some of my eldest daughter’s actions baffle me. So the struggle is real. And sometimes she answers so insightfully that we can build on it and grow.

“To have fun.” She finally confesses. After saying “I don’t know” a few times.

We had a good talk and prayer time last night. But we had to repeat it this morning, with some extra ideas to make it stick.

If only one person is having fun, it’s not funny. It’s bullying. Picking on someone smaller or teasing them is unacceptable. We talked about a clean heart, and how God sees everything, even when parents are not present. And it is up to us to keep a clean heart, and when it gets dirty, with mean words, thoughts and actions, we ask for God’s forgiveness and try not to do those things again. God is faithful to answer and to help us.

We will file this behavior in the “adjusting period” section, but for now it drives me nuts.

During a few visits, j has teased ivy, hiding a toy (to see her reaction) or telling her things that would be slightly unfiltered and upsetting.

But there is such a mix of emotions and attitudes that we try to catch up with and address, and it feels like putting out fires in a dry forest.

Today, as I corrected Jackie, she cried saying she may not be a good sister. I reminded her that God created them as sisters, and He doesn’t make mistakes. We need to confess our heart and serve each other and ask God to help them be good sisters, like we pray to be good parents.

I’m aware of my contribution to her resentment. I automatically relied upon her as an ally in welcoming Evelyn into our home. I gave her no extra responsibilities but I expected kindness from her. While She expected to have a playmate, an ally, a little sister. Which she got, but Evelyn is strong and has her own mind and personality. There’s a lot of sparks in the process of attachment. For them.

On one hand they get along spectacularly, and this may be an exceptional honeymoon season we could take advantage of in building a strong foundation as well as a straight trunk of our grafted tree.

We try hard not to scold Jackie too much, because ivy picks up on our correction and sometimes repeats it back to jackie.
Jackie herself likes to correct, scold or limit Evelyn, in all areas she has been corrected in, even if ivy doesn’t need correction.

At dinner time last night, J tells ivy to go wash her mouth toward the end of our meal. The irony was that Jackie’s face was much messier than ivy’s. A classic case of “take the log out of your own eye before you tell your friend to clear the straw out of his eye.”

We play hide and seek the four of us, and the girls play most other games together.
We watch cartoons, we hike, we explore nature. We cook and have meals together.

Bed time is complicated. And creates tension. Jackie wants the same amount of attention, because we try to accommodate Evelyn’s emotional comfort as it hasn’t been a week since she switched homes forever. I read them both stories. I sing to both of them. But I stay longer near ivy’s bed. Jackie wants to snuggle in her bed, and ivy won’t let her.
Jackie has a fear of missing out. Ivy wants her space. There in lies the tension.

I must remember that this is a season. And ivy will fully attach and relax in our family, will grow stronger and more articulate. Jackie is willing, teachable, reasonable, loving and sensitive, but her heart is going through a dramatic transformation. I sense, see and hear the questions of her heart. That she still belongs, that our love for her hasn’t dwindled, that we delight in her. One thing she doesn’t quite grasp yet is how proud I am of her maturity and reliability. She is sweet and so beautiful inside and out. From our point of view, there is no competition. Deep down she will understand that, by God’s Grace. We pray for wisdom and stamina in the process.

The growing pains now will be worth every tear and sweat.