A few days ago, R got annoyed with me that I was working on things and not responding quickly enough to her needs. She wrote me a letter that said, “You hurt my feelings. When you tell me to do something I do it asap. When I ask you to do something, it takes you one minute.”
Today I took the girls to the zoo. After 20 minutes of hard shopping in the gift shop, Ruby settles on buying a stuffed animal sloth. She tells me it’s name is Sally, named after me. Maybe it was my slowness, but I was amused.
Last week the stomach virus went through all three of us. When I told M it had finally gotten me during the night, she cried, “No, no mommy I’m so sorry I got you sick.” And then she burst into a more intense cry moving into hysterics. She was in the back seat. I had just picked her up from school, so I couldn’t hug her to calm her down. I told her that I was fine now and all good, but this didn’t seem to help calm her. She handed me a letter that she had written at school, Mommy, I hope you don’t get sick. I love you.
I thought to myself for a second why would she be so upset about a 24 hour bug? Could she be thinking I am going to die like her dad? So I asked, “Do you think I am going to get sick like your daddy?” She nodded her head up and down for yes and kept crying. I reassured her that my lungs were strong, and I was already better. That stopped the crying for a moment.
Then she starting crying again, “Either Ruby or I will get daddy’s lungs. One of us will die, and I don’t want us to die.” I knew she was tying this conversation to an earlier conversation about what they inherited from their dad. I told her that both of their lungs were strong, and they will be ok. “You couldn’t scream as loud as you can if you have bad lungs,” I said as a way to reassure her. She gave out a good scream with a smile that ended the conversation and the tears.
R likes to save money. She’ll do laundry, clean the car, clean her room and can be very helpful when money is involved. R had saved up to $250, so I asked her, “What are you going to buy?” She said quickly, “A castle, so I can move out and have my own place.” “Do you mean a place for you to move to after college?” I asked. She said, “No, as soon as I get the money, I’m moving out.” I asked her, “who will take care of you if you move out?” She said, “I’ll hire a nanny, of course.”
The girls were pretending and playing family with a friend. I asked who everyone’s role was in the game. R said, “I’m the mommy, M is the kid, and her friend is the nanny.”
R has always been curious about her body and what will happen to it. One day she asked a lot of questions, so I decided to tell her about the signs of puberty. I could tell that she was thinking through it all and wondering when it would happen to her.
Later that day, a little 5 year old M says with fear, “Mom, R says I’m going through puberty right now and my boobs are about to get huge.” I laughed and told her it wouldn’t be until much later. She was relieved.
The next day, M and I were waiting in carpool for R, and M was asking what the letters on the car dash meant. I told her, “E is for Empty. F is for Full.” And then she says, “And P is for Puberty”.
One day talking to the girls, M said “what would you do if an alligator tried to attack us?” I said bravely with a smile all proud of myself, “I would jump in front of the alligator and keep it from attacking you”
Both R and M bust out crying at the same time to my confusion. How could that answer caused them to cry? It was just a theoretical discussion, I thought to myself. “Mommy, no then you’ll be dead. Pick up a stick and beat the alligator. Don’t put your body in front of it,” said R.
“Why would you let the alligator kill you?” said M.
Geez, I thought. This is conversation isn’t what I thought at all. Fighting alligators is simple.
After squishing the three of us into a love seat for 6 years, I decided to finally buy a new couch. New furniture purchases are rare in my house. My mom likes to visit estate sales and usually finds something used for me. This time I decided to get something new.
I told the girls I was excited for the new couch to arrive. When it finally did, I said to them, “Don’t you just love it. It’s great!” They responded with frowns to my confusion and told me “You love the couch more than us.”
“What?”, I said in astonishment. “That’s impossible and ridiculous. I’m just excited about it is all.”
A few days later, we were sitting on the couch (that I no longer can call by name) and the girls were fighting over me. I suggested that one sit on my lap for 5 minutes and the other get the dog in their lap, and then we rotate. That made them excited and they agreed. After five minutes were up, they both wanted the dog instead of me. So I said, “You love the dog more than meeeeee” with a whine and a smile. Hopefully, that ended the couch conversation.
Laying in the bed with R one night rubbing her back and her head to help calm her before sleep, and she says to me with sadness, “I hate my ears. They stick out and the other kids make fun of me.”
I said, “I love your ears. They are your daddy’s ears, and every time I look at them, I think about him. You have something of his. They have meaning.” She smiled and touched her ears.
I then told her the story about Jennifer Grey changing her nose and then everybody liked the old Jennifer Grey better because she was unique and now she looks like everybody else. That probably wasn’t the best story to tell to show my point. R said, “Well that was mean that they didn’t like her when she changed.” I stumbled through, “Well my point is that it’s special to be unique and not look like others.”
R thought about it all for a bit and then settled in to sleep. I’m pretty sure this topic will come up again.
One day I was complaining about my belly getting bigger and needing to focus on exercising and eating healthy. R said, “But we love your belly. It’s cozy, and I love to hug it. Please don’t get rid of it.”
I thought about how to say that positively and said, “I love my body, but I want to focus on eating healthier and exercising more.” R smiled approvingly at me.
R opens up to me the most while we’re laying next to each other in the bed at night when I’m putting her to sleep. This night, she started to turn away from me and hold back her tears as she said, “mommy, we have three math groups now. The kids in class told me I’m not as smart, and I’m in the lower group.”
I knew I would have these conversations with R since she was diagnosed as dyslexic, but it’s hard to know what the right thing is to say in the moment.
I said, “You don’t know which group is which, and I’m pretty sure the teachers wouldn’t say. Also, mommy is not very good at art. Do you love mommy any less?” She said, “no, of course not.” I said, “I love you whether you are math group 1, 2 or 3. All that I ask is that you try hard.”
She rolled over and gave me a hug and went to sleep.
A few days later, M was getting frustrated with a video game and said, “I’m not good at anything.” R then responded, “Yes you are, and we love you whether you a good at something or not.”
M was listening in on my conversation with R, and I was telling R some of her traits are like her momma and some of her traits are like her daddy.
Later I noticed M a little sad, and she said “Are you my real momma?” I was a little shocked by the question and asked her what she meant. She said very seriously, ” you know in those movies where it’s not really the momma. Just tell me the truth. Are you or are you not my real momma?”
I thought for a moment to my conversation earlier I had with Ruby and wondered if she was questioning what traits we had in common, so I asked “Are you questioning if I am your mother because you don’t know how we’re alike?”. She nods her head up and down for yes.
Relieved I figured out the reason why, I explained to her that we had the same curly hair, are good at math, and can make friends with anyone. That seemed to appease her. She said, “let’s play dolls”.