Over the past few months, I have written a lot about my younger daughter, referred to here on this blog as “Curious J.” I have not written as much about my older daughter, “Lyd.” Perhaps this has been because the changes are so much easier to see in J than in L, so much more obvious. She is, after all, only two years old, so she’s changing rapidly every day.
Lyd, however, is six. Changes are evident, but not as readily apparent. And, frankly, earlier this school year she went through a stage where she was driving me nuts, so I didn’t talk about her as much. However, she seems to have crossed a hurdle, and lately she’s been exhibiting some behaviors that have me extremely pleased.
For one thing, she’s been getting better at empathizing with others, better at putting herself in another person’s shoes. While I’ve been saying this to her in response to some of her behaviors over the past few months (ie. “How would YOU feel if someone had done that to you?”) and she has often given me the correct answer, I haven’t always felt like she’s truly “gotten” it. But, lately, I see her beginning to truly empathize of her own accord, and I am so pleased and proud.
Another point of growth that I see is that there’s less whining. She can be a bit of a whiner (I don’t know WHO she learned that from!!), and it’s been … frustrating. However, I’ve begun to seriously put my foot down about it and, at times, even given her some serious consequences (at least, serious to her – I mean, losing MY princess dress-up clothes for a week isn’t a big deal, but apparently it is to her!) Apparently the message has finally begun to filter through to her. Our house is nowheres close to being bereft of whining, I am beginning to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
Speaking of behaviors requiring consequences, she is also VERY good at being silly! It must be a six year old thing. She can be just SO silly that I have had to rein her in a bit, especially where school is concerned. Due to some reports from her teacher, I’ve had to really put my foot down about silliness at school (although some of her male classmates are definitely partners and encouragers in mischief!) Right now, most days after school, I make a point to ask Lyd in front of her teacher how she was in school today, and then ask the teacher how she was while Lyd is still there. I’ve had to create some consequences at home to support her teacher’s efforts in school, and for the most part things seem to be improving. (Parents, I highly recommend the consequence of putting your child to bed an hour earlier. Not only do they get some likely-much-needed sleep, but they feel the indignity of an early bedtime extensively, especially when a younger sibling gets to stay up! It’s highly effective.)
As far as Lyd’s personal growth goes, I also see her playing a little better with her little sister. It’s always a challenge. Not only are they four years apart in age, Curious J also insists on doing whatever it is her big sister is doing. I suspect that she believes she actually IS six years old! However, she is not six years old, she’s two, and as a two year old, she simply cannot do everything her big sister does, which has caused frustrated melt-downs on occasion. Yet, Lyd is getting better at finding ways to play with her sister, a phrase that I’ve repeated time and again when a storm erupts between the sisters. It always warms my mother-heart to see them truly playing together, and when I look at them in those moments, I know that all that I went through to have a second child was worth it.
Lyd is also starting to be able to take responsibility for herself in small ways. In fact, yesterday morning she did something I had been encouraging her to do for a while: She got up on her own, before the rest of us were up, and got herself dressed for school on her own. She and J reliably wake up before their mom and dad, and I’ve often requested that, rather than lying in bed and reading books, Lyd just get up and get dressed for school. “Besides,” I promised her, “if you do that, I’ll let you do your own hair for school.” Well, that is a big carrot to dangle in front of her, let me assure you! My standard way of doing her hair for school is to pull all the hair on the top of her head into a simple ponytail, either on the left or right side of her head. It’s nothing fancy, but I do insist that it be out of her face for school, so it doesn’t distract her. However, Lyd prefers to just put a headband in her hair and hold it back that way. That’s not my preferred way, because headbands come out, and then her bang-less hair falls in her face, and then she can’t concentrate as well, so … For me to tell Lyd that she can wear her hair however she wants is a huge bargaining tool.
And, yesterday, she DID get up and dressed on her own. Because I am a mother and therefore a perpetually light sleeper (at least in regards to certain noises), I did wake up when I heard her moving around. (Not that I did anything about it, mind you!) I wondered, in my still-half-asleep state, if indeed she was getting dressed on her own — and she was! That particular morning Curious J slept in, and Lyd didn’t even attempt to wake her up. She just did what she had to do to get dressed (except she forgot to take a morning trip to the bathroom. “I forgot,” she said when I asked her. How can you forget something like that!?! Just wait until she’s a mother. Any trip I make up in the middle of the night has to have a stop in the bathroom at some point, or else I won’t go back to sleep. Oh, well.) Now If I can just set out her breakfast necessities the night before, and have her eat her own breakfast and take herself off to school on her own once in a while, that will be lovely! Although, Curious J rarely sleeps in, so there’s realy point in me lying abed…
One more interesting things she’s said off and on lately is on the topic of adoption. She knows what adoption is, we’ve talked about adopting a child from Haiti, and she has friends who are adopted. Apparently all this adoption talk has made an impression on her. She has said more than once in the past few weeks, “Momma, I love you and I don’t ever want to lose you. And I don’t ever want you to give me up for adoption.” (To which I respond that I would never give her up for adoption, and the only way she would ever get adopted away was if Daddy and I were dead. If that happens, then we would want you to get adopted into a new family, preferably someone who already IS part of your family, so that you would have a new Momma and Daddy.) She’s had a number of dreams/nightmares lately where she can’t find me, and she wakes up scared. So, I think this all has had an impact on her, and it has shown me that despite her desire to play with her friends all day long, she still is very, very attached to me and JJ.
She and I talk about the future. We talk about how someday she will probably get married and have children of her own, and then I will be the grandma. Some days she wants to grow up, some days she doesn’t (because then she’ll have to do all the work! No kidding, kid.) When she and I (although it’s always more me) are doing housework together, she says, “It’s like we’re being Cinderella and doing all the work!” Not quite, I tell her. We’re doing all the work, but we’re doing it together as a happy family.
It’s wonderful to see her spiritual development as well. Just recently, she and I talked about how we love Jesus more than anything or anyone else. We talk about how we all sin every day, but how Jesus paid for all our sins on the cross. We talk about how we live our lives the way Jesus wants as our way to say, “Thank you” to Jesus. She once said that she didn’t think that I sinned at all, and I was quick to assure her that I most certainly did, and that I needed Jesus’ forgiveness every day just as much as she did. 🙂 We also talk about heaven, and how my and Daddy’s most important wish and prayer for our children is that we all make it safely to heaven someday. Even if one of our family dies before the others, we know that we will see each other again in heaven, where everything will be perfect. “I want to go to heaven now,” Lyd has said. To which I responded, “So do I, sweetie, so do I.”
Some times I look at her and think, “She’s SIX. I have a six year old daughter. She is one-third of the way to being grown-up!” But she is most definitely NOT grown-up yet. She still really needs her Momma. She loves school and LOVES her friends at school (she’s such a social child!), but she’s getting better about appreciating being home with her family. Last Saturday, as we had a quiet Saturday afternoon with Curious J napping, she said, “I like being home with you, Momma. It’s nice to have a break from school.” And, it is nice to have her around, too. She’s almost always a cheerful, happy presence, full of imaginative ideas and creative thinking. She’s a little dreamy at times, but she means well. And with her getting older, I can do more things with her, and that’s a whole new enjoyable world for me as a parent.
Lyd is a blessing to me, to her father, to her little sister, to her schoolmates, and to so many people. I so enjoy having her for my daughter, and I know how blessed I truly am.