Sunday, January 18, 2009

thank you, daughter

The thing nobody tells you is that when you have a second kid, no matter how much you love the new one, Ma and Pa will face a subtle challenge. You sometimes have to look over daughter number one to see daughter number two. That is, your first kid is used to getting all of your attention, and will continue to expect it. You may, as we have, continue to try to give it, even as you struggle to give the new kid a change and a bottle and some minimum level of care.

Well, that doesn't work. The first kid starts to notice she doesn't have your full focus, and protests about this, in all sorts of quiet and insidious ways. The second kid protests in all sorts of unsubtle ways, like wacking you with dinner rolls, or sticking her finger in light sockets.

This might seem obvious to some of the higher level lifeforms out there, but I'm not always the brightest bulb in the room. It's taken me a while to notice that if I make a little effort to include V., to talk to her as much as I talk to Adinah, to make her the boss of a game, or let her help me cook, she lets me get a little closer to her. My latest project is playing traffic cop for our conversations around the house. That means I often have to ask Adinah to pause in the middle of an epic tale about who draws the best butterflies at Kindergarten, so that I can let V. tell me the "story," for the fortieth time, about the time she saw a cow, and she wanted to ride the cow, but she was afraid.

So now, something is shifting. Now, V. voluntarily takes my hand when we cross the street, and she doesn't always let go as soon as we get to the other side. The other day, she fell down on the sidewalk, and she didn't get up and hug Adinah. She hugged me.

It was one of the best things that happened this week.

No comments: