a daughter who listens

My darling firstborn daughter will turn five and a half years old during our upcoming trip, and it’s both amazing and humbling to see her change as she grows up.  A few recent incidents highlight this beautifully.

On Easter Sunday, I decided to let Lyd wear a special piece of jewelry to church.  I have a picture of myself from when I was about 3 years old, wearing a matching necklace and ring, each of them with a pink rose on it.  I still have that ring.  It wasn’t an expensive ring or fancy ring by any means, but for almost 30 years, I have saved this ring.  Even when it was too small for me, I saved it, and as I grew up, I saved it for a daughter that I might have someday.  So, on Easter Sunday morning, I showed Lyd the picture of me wearing the ring at age three, showed her the ring, and then asked her if she’d like to wear it.  She happily agreed.  I told her to be very careful with it, as the ring was very special to me.  She said she would be careful.

About two hours later, as we sat down in our pew right before church started, Lyd leaned over to me and whispered sadly, “Momma, I lost the ring.”  I felt very disappointed and angry, but as the Easter procession was about to start in the back of church, and as It Was EASTER!!!, I took a deep breath, told her we’d look for it after church, and let it go.  I had forgotten about it by the time church was over, but Lyd hadn’t, and she happily came up to me after church with the news that she had found the ring on her own!  Yay!  I didn’t have a pocket on my outfit, and I was busy at that moment, so I told her to put the ring on, not to take it off, and to be extra-careful to keep it safe.

Not too long later, with tears in her eyes, she told me that she had lost it again.

By this time, everyone had gone home, and I was doing clean up in our church Fellowship Hall from the remainders of the Easter Breakfast.  We knew it had been lost in the Fellowship Hall, but we had also been bagging up a lot of trash.  We looked around for a while, and the one church member who had graciously stayed afterwards to help clean up (who got an invitation to our house to share our simple Easter dinner afterwards as a thank you!), remarked that he had noticed it on a certain table in a corner of the room that had already been cleaned.  But when Lyd and I looked around, the ring was not there.

I let it go for the time being again; it was time to go home and make Easter dinner, and we had company.  But later on in the afternoon, after we looked again and still hadn’t found it, I had the time and attention to be peeved at her.  I was not happy.  I didn’t yell or get loud and angry, but I did tell her that I was disappointed in her for not being more careful with the ring and taking better care of it.  Lyd was so sad at herself.  As she sat at the table playing with her play-dough, her mind flitted off the topic and she asked me a question about something else.  I mumbled a rather non-interested response back, to which Lyd sadly sighed and said, “You’re still angry with me for losing your ring.”  She paused a bit, and then went on to say hopefully, “But you still love me, even though you’re mad at me, right?”

Oh, those words just slayed me!  Because many, many times I have told Lyd that while I don’t love everything she does, I will always love her.  I have said this time and again, hoping that by teaching this lesson thoroughly when she’s a child, she will remember it when she’s a young adult, when it will REALLY count.

Apparently, it’s working.  She remembered, and after her reminding me of my forever-love for her, I just couldn’t be angry with her anymore.  She’s still a little girl, and she’s definitely a bit on the spacey side at times, but she didn’t mean to lose my ring, and she felt so very bad about it.  She even gave a short, heartbreaking, unprompted-by-me little speech to me about what she had done and why she was sorry for doing it.  I gave her a big hug, said that she was right, I would always love her no matter what, and again, for the last time, I let it go.  It’s just a cheap ring, really.  It’s just — stuff.

But those kids, they do listen.

Lyd definitely listens.  After the Easter breakfast but before church, Lyd and a few other kids had wanted to go outside to the playground to play, and I suggested (in front of the other kids’ parents, who agreed with me) that they shouldn’t go outside and play before church otherwise they might get dirty and wound up before church.  I then left to take my empty egg bake pan back up to my house.  As I walked back down to church, I was met by a teary-eyed Lyd.  The aforementioned kids were out on the playground with their father after all along with the rest of the kids, and Lyd was begging for permission to play, too, as she was the only kid who had been at the Easter breakfast who wasn’t currently on the playground.  She was listening to me; she hadn’t gone on the playground without my permission.  I was so proud of her!

I remember strongly being the kid who was left out of things growing up, the kid who always felt a little weird and a bit of an outsider, the kid who always felt “different.”  JJ grew up with similar experiences, and he has even stronger feelings than I do about allowing his kids to do what the other kids are doing (within reason, of course) so that they don’t feel different.  He says that it’s hard enough being a pastor’s kid without having to feel like the odd one out all the time.  So, with memories of how it felt to be left out as a child, and with a firm admonishment to Lyd not to get her dress dirty and to come right away when I called her for church, I let her go play on the playground.  She was so happy, and she headed straight for the swings, where she pumped and swung with all her might, and, I might add, did not get herself dirty.

Lyd listens.  Oh, how she listens.   Last night as I was putting her to bed, she wanted a little more time with me (as she always does), and I insisted that I had to go – I had work to do.  I had to do the dishes and write out my lesson plan and take out the recycling in the cold wind (as I shivered to show her how much I wasn’t looking foward to it) and fold clothes and get a few things ready for our trip.  Lyd responded by telling me a seemingly-unrelated story, saying that when she had to eat something that she didn’t like, Daddy told her to eat the thing she didn’t like first, so that it would be gone and finished.  I confess that tuned her story out at first; Lyd can be a bit spacey with her stories at times, so I just sort of nodded along.  But then Lyd continued, “So, you should do the job you don’t like first, and then it will be done!”

Um, what was that, kid?  What did you just say?  It took me a moment to respond.  When I did, I asked her, “So which job do you think I like the least?”

“Taking out the recycling,” she correctly answered.

Darned if that little girl’s advice didn’t just hit the nail on the head!  I was very impressed with how she had made the mental connection in her head.  She is truly growing up, physically and emotionally and mentally.

As well as spiritually.  This girl asks better questions about God and heaven then I can ever remember asking at her age.  For some reason, over the past weekend, I told her that I had had a miscarriage three years ago.  She already knew what a miscarriage is, somehow the topic had come up in conversation between us, and for whatever reason, I decided the time was right to share with her that I had had a miscarriage.  She was instantly very sad, and she asked questions about when it had happened.  I think she thought it had happened recently, but I told her that it had been long ago when she was only two years old.  I told her that it was okay to be sad about it, that Momma had been sad about it when it happened and that Momma still gets a little sad now and then, but that I knew that Jesus was taking care of that baby in heaven.  I also told her that it wasn’t something that we needed to talk about with other people; it was something just for us.

Two nights later, Easter evening, while we were saying goodnight, out of the blue she said to me, “Momma, I whispered to [her best friend] this morning that you had had a miscarriage.”  I was surprised (although I suppose I shouldn’t have been – she’s a sensitive girl) that the fact of my miscarriage had made such an impression on her.  I told her that it was okay that she’d told her best friend, but that she shouldn’t tell anyone else.  Then Lyd started asking me questions about the baby, how small it was when it died, how I knew it was in heaven, and if other people’s babies that had died in miscarriage were in heaven, too.  She asked really good questions, thought-full questions, and I was honest with her, although I chose my words carefully.  I did try to impress up on her that a lot of women have miscarriages, and that often they’re a sad fact of life.  I remember how I couldn’t even bear the thought of having a miscarriage before the time that I had one, and if I can help my daughter grow up with the idea that they’re a relatively normal – albeit sad – part of life, I think I will have done her a service.  But I also impressed on her that God is smarter and wiser and knows more than we ever will, and that everything he does is for our good, and that we have to just trust that God knows what he’s doing, even when sad things happen.  Hopefully, she will remember that lesson, too.

She is really growing up.  I am amazed every day, and I realize more and more that I can’t take her childish ways for granted.  They are most definitely not going to last forever.  And while I may feel like she’s not listening to me when she doesn’t do what I ask, she is ALWAYS listening to me.  She is … wonderful, she is such a blessing, and she is inspiring me every day to be a better mother to her and her sister.  And her laugh is infectious!  Tonight at supper all four of us were being silly and laughing together, and Lyd gasped out, “I’m laughing so hard I can barely breathe!”  We’re all happy together.

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And, while vacuuming the Fellowship Hall yesterday, I found my ring. 🙂  It made me glad that I didn’t go off on Lyd with a whole speech about her being irresponsible.  It really wasn’t that big of a deal, and I know Grandma Violet would have told me not to make a big deal over it.  If Lyd wants to wear the ring again, I think I’ll take my parents’ advice and put it on a necklace so she can’t lose it.  Then she can be successful at wearing the ring and not losing it, and she’ll probably think it’s really cool to wear her mother’s ring on a necklace.

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