Thursday, March 21, 2013

A hug is worth a thousand pictures

In a world where it is becoming increasingly difficult to bend that little girl of mine to my will, these tiny moments of unadulterated beauty are like sparkling drops of sunshine bursting through clouds.

E and I butt heads a lot. At first I exhausted much of my energy by digging in my heels, only to realize that she who speaks loudest does not, in fact, win anything other than a raging headache. Rational discussion is much more effective, but it only works in certain situations, like when she feels like listening. But there are times, and I know this because I used to be the daughter in this very situation, when it's not so much about right and wrong, or logic and reason, but about exerting some control in a world that has a lot of power of you. Sometimes E is going to do the exact opposite thing that I ask her to do, simply because she needs to know that she can.

I get it. And I even support it. To a point. It's the balance, as always, that I'm having trouble with. She needs to be able to make some of her own decisions, but she needs to understand that sometimes she doesn't have all of the resources to make them. She needs to be able to do her own thing, even if it's not what mom and dad would like, but she also needs to understand that, for the next decade or so anyway, our authority trumps her plans to take over the world.

One arena that is a frequent source of conflict is the "greeting". J and I have explained the importance of being polite and friendly when someone greets us. If someone says "Hello", we say "Hello" back. If someone asks us a question, we answer them. We don't need to (and shouldn't) run into a stranger's arms for a bear hug or engage in a twenty-minute conversation, but there are ways of behaving in polite society that simply make the world a nicer place to inhabit, and we encourage those behaviours. E is about 50/50 in this regard. Sometimes super friendly, waving and interacting with enthusiasm, sometimes sullen and distant, and occasionally a generally disobedient mess. Either way, she's looking for a response. I try not to give one, and instead discuss the situation after the fact, reinforcing what we consider to be appropriate behaviour. I don't know how it's going, but it's one of the little things in the grand scheme and I try not to make it more than that.

On the other hand, it's important that we take every opportunity to let loved ones know how happy we are to see them. It's not enough to talk about how excited we are to see Gramma and Papa for days, right up until the moment before we knock on the door, only to hide behind mama's legs and pretend they don't exist when they welcome us inside. It's just not cool. Loved ones get warm greetings, hugs, and answers to their questions. This is a bigger deal to me. I want my daughter to have an open and loving relationship with her family and close friends, not to be hampered by attention-seeking behaviour that can lead to emotional distance and resentment if left to fester.

Am I making too much of all of this? Probably. But it's just the way that I am. I overthink things, and make bigger deals than need to be made.

And what was the point in all of this? Oh, yes. Well, do you see those pictures up there? Those were the goodbye hugs for Gramma and Papa a few days ago. Totally unforced, totally voluntary, totally sincere. And while we all know how she feels about Gramma and Papa, it sure is beautiful when she forgets for just a minute about the need to control her world and just lets her emotions be her guide.

1 comment: