Monday, June 22, 2009

The Real Story

This was the last picture taken on Eliza's birthday. Anika wasn't looking at the camera (I'm wondering if she hadn't figured out how we were taking the photos? Dan thinks she knew, but was characteristically uninterested in the staged photo), and Eliza decided to move her head with her hands, and received a sharp tap on the noggin with a (closed) pocket knife in return, moments after the shutter snapped. Ouch.  
It was a long day, this birthday - moments of joy, peace, love, but so much more of the other stuff - impatience, frustration, anger, jealousy - you know, the purely human junk we all go through.  I took a few photos of the morning - our traditional circle 'round the sun candle, photos of the birthday girl, stories, present opening - but honestly, Dan and I were so miserable juggling the giddiness of one girl and the frank meanness of the other that I wanted to toss the camera in the back of the closet for the day.  I am recognizing a need to reach for more help with Ani right now.  She is expressing herself in pinches and gritted teeth, and my response deteriorates too quickly to animal instinct  - I just want to growl her away by the end of the day, when I know I should be drawing her close, finding the way in, connecting.  Our days are near-constant erupt and repair, erupt and repair...She had a terrible time sharing the day with Eliza, which I know is probably age-appropriate, but I didn't expect it.  She brushes off my words, my processing with "I know, I know" and I start to grit my own teeth.

We did have a good morning today - Eliza went to Girl Scout camp all day long (man, I feel like she's in school! 8:30 - 4:30 and no time for free play!!), and we had our little buddy Izekiel with us for the morning, so she got to be the big sister, and she was awesome.  She was gentle, amused, helpful, was a real pleasure to be with her.  I can't quite see through to the clues here, other than the obvious of her getting to be the big one for a while and therefore not needing to assert her power over him (is that all? really?).  She just adores Eliza, talks about her all the time, is heartsick on days like this when we see her in the car as we pick her up from camp, from rehearsal, but then she is quick to anger her, even when Eliza is being generous and loving with her.  

Sigh. I will let you know, with a concise and eloquent post, when I have four (and this girl) figured out...till then, I will keep on keeping on, because what else is there to do?


Lisa said... was Araina's birthday too (6)! Happy birthday Eliza!!!

Lisa :)

Stacy (mama-om) said...

Oh, Debbie, I am laugh-crying with you at this post. "The Real Story." The picture. The daily fracas.

Oddly enough, Orlando is at a day-camp this week (a homeschooling teen is putting it on with her mom) and was gone from 9:30 to 1:30 yesterday. It was amazingly different to be with just one child -- Mica seemed different and relieved, and we connected in a way that we usually don't (including him getting some icky stuff out).

Even when the boys are together, there is a lot of role reversal play that they seem to want to do (Orlando is a baby and Mica is big brother).

Also, we have been doing dates once a month -- one parent each takes a kid for an afternoon -- and the kids really, really like it.

I don't know, but I often think about my own place in the birth order (I'm the middle) in relation to my kids and where my irritation/intolerance comes from. I know that the irritation saps all our energies, and I am painstakingly trying to build more constructive habits of responding... but it is taking a long time. :)

I was talking to Carol (hakomi) once and she really made an impression on me... that the reconnection IS healing, truly. I have a hard time believing it but there is a kernel of me in there that does. I am definitely tired of my habits of disconnection... and wish I could just wish them away. I wish I could wish yours away for you... Until then, I will keep holding you, and Ani, and your whole family, in my heart.

Love you,

Stacy (mama-om) said...

Hi again...
I keep thinking of this post... and I always remember that it is called "the rest of the story."

Also, I started reading Playful Parenting (by Lawrence Cohen) a few days ago. I read it when Orlando was younger, and I am definitely feeling grateful for the reminder of the principles of play, and for ideas of how to get myself to do it. :) Have you read it?

Sometimes the play happens naturally and the child instigates it, but the book has reminded me to stay a bit more in tune with it. Have you and Ani ever played "mama who talks too much"? Or some game like that -- with role reversal or maybe using stuffed animals? Or maybe there is a character who only knows how to (pretend) pinch and pinches everyone and everything... I don't know... something/anything to break the intensity. I don't necessarily mean to play these games in the moment (though that could work), but more when you and she are in a good, strong connected place.