Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Only Look at ME, Mommy

Sometimes, I'm a little slow. A little dense. A little thick in the head.

(But only sometimes. The rest of the time, I'm positively catatonic.)

Recently I spent weeks alternating between wringing my hands over my middle child's behavior and wanting drop-kick her to the moon at certain moments -- figuratively speaking, of course. It seemed like her chief form of recreation was to go out of her way to irritate her little sister, who consistently rewarded her with some juicy shrieks and angry tears.

I know you don't believe me. No one believes me. People who don't live at our ranch are totally convinced that this child is sweet and mild-mannered ALL THE TIME.


Anyway, we had conversation after conversation along these lines: "Eliza, what do you get out of provoking your sister?" "Ummmmm ... it's fun." "Well, please find some way to have fun that doesn't beat our family sanity to a pulp." But we weren't really getting anywhere. And the wee one, she don't take nuthin' lyin' down.

A couple weeks ago we went down to the Austin Parks and Recreation Department to see our friend Bethany receive a Life-Saving Award from the City for saving Caroline's life. Of course, the very nice folks there also made much over our little miracle child and her big brother, The Hero.

A suspicion began nagging at me. You know the whole Middle Child Syndrome thing? I started to wonder how it might feel to be sandwiched between the Miracle Child and the Hero. And what if the Miracle Child also spent hours every day creating artistic masterpieces and reaping appropriate amounts of attention for it? And what if the Hero also had a dominant personality? Hmmmm.

I shared my thoughts with a group of friends and they suggested I do a little investigation. So, that very evening, my girl and I went for a walk. And we talked, about whatever she wanted to discuss. And somewhere on the next street over, I asked her the whole drowning crisis had been for her. The conversation lasted about two minutes and featured the words, "Well, from my perspective ..." coming out of her mouth. And I kept a straight face when that happened. And then reminded her how special and important she was to us. And that was that.

It's funny how, when kids challenge our patience, sometimes the thing they need most (time alone with us) is what we least feel like offering. But y'all, I am here to bear witness. For the entire week after that little walkie-talkie, my child sprouted angelic wings. Fairy dust practically sprinkled her path. Harmony reigned in our home, as if a tropical weather front had blown in. Maybe it was the conversation. Maybe it was the one-on-one time. Whatever it is, I'm ready to make this a tradition.

Long live the Sunday evening walk!


Tamara said...

I love this! I've been considering this very thing lately. Your story really puts some umph to it for me...that is, it really brings home the point and brings it to the forefront of my thoughts of how to take care of my kiddo's heart. Thanks, Hannah! (And of course, I'm so happy that the sweet little person sandwiched between the hero and the miracle got what she needed!)

Tim said...

This is the same girl who used to (and still does every once in a long while) grab your chin and redirect your face to point at her while she's talking or wants your attention. It's kind of obvious, once you get past emotional reactions, that what she REALLY wants is Daddy and Mommy's attention.

Sarah Chappelle said...

Totally love this. :) So sweet. Amazing the conversations that come out one on one. Hugs to you all. :)
- Sarah

Raji P. said...

Lovvvve this post.

JoAnn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JoAnn said...

Well, this just confirms what I have said all along: that You, Hannah, are one great momma! Sensitive and insightful, and so very caring. Thanks for doing such a good job with our grandchildren.
Now, I wonder.... how in the world does Michelle Duggar do it with so many children??

bekah said...

Thanks for posting this. Having three kids now, this is good info for me. The other day I took the oldest for a walk. We held hands (which doesn't happen when the other two are present) and she said, "Wow mom, it is so quiet."

Anonymous said...

so sweet.