My four year old, Gianina, would rather be a baby. Two years old, to be exact. She wants to be held, cuddled, dressed and feel my footsteps racing towards her at her slightest whimper. She doesn't want to give up walking and talking, though, so she chooses to be an older baby.
"Remember that I'm still two years old, okay mommy?"
Sigh. I do not have the patience for this.
But I do understand. Her brother, born 18 months after her, gets more of my attention. When we are all three reading books and he gets impatient and wants to turn the page, he usually gets his way. If he doesn't get his way he screams and kicks, and story time is ruined. So we rational thinkers have to walk the fine line between reading what we want and avoiding our book flying over our heads and onto the floor.
And I have to admit, my daughter has learned the skillful art of walking that fine line between respect for him and his stage of life and self respect. When she and Steven are getting along, it's because she is being thoughtful and generous towards him, while also staying true to herself. Sometimes she amazes me.
But I think she is reaching her breaking point. Enough is enough. Being the older rational one is for the birds. She'd rather be two.
"I'm still two years old, mommy, okay?"
Every 10 mintues.
She adds a little whine.
I have to make this stop.
So a few Saturdays ago I sent the boys away. I wanted to give her my full and undivided attention. We would paint, and there would be no little brother to get in the way. No whining, either. Just us girls.
Our entryway closet doors were a very boring white. I thought we'd spruce them up a bit.
First we mixed some nice pastel colors. Gianina loved adding drops of red and yellow to the white paint and swirling it all together. Of course she didn't want to wear her art smock, though. We had to get her Frozen apron from when she was two years old.
Deep breath. Baby steps, I told myself.
She was sensitive when I told her not to step in the paint. "I don't like when you make that face, mommy." She went to her room for a while.
I started to realize that maybe the "sibling struggles" that I was trying to remedy were actually "mother and daughter struggles."
A few years ago, this little human was inside me. We were two souls wrapped up in one body. The journey towards letting go of each other and finding our own sense of self is not a quick one. There are days that I really don't know who I am apart from her, and some days she doesn't know who she is apart from me. So we are constantly dancing with and around each other, sometimes together, sometimes venturing away.
I thought that by having a "girls day," I could let her know that I am still the mother that fell in love with her when she was a baby. That I love her just as much as I love Steven. I wanted to "fix" things. And stop the whining.
Now I am noticing the quote that I chose to paint on the door. It's about reaching higher, growing up, and dreaming big. I have lots of dreams for myself and for this little girl, but I should remember that she is in charge of the dreams in her life. And if she is telling me that she needs more time to be little, then she does.
Maybe this quote from The Little Prince would have been better:
Gianina is telling me something, and I should close my eyes and open up my heart to her. Her wanting me to spoon feed her is actually her wanting more connection with me.
What about you? Have you ever experienced a strong message or need from someone that took a while to figure out?