Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wet Pants and Pasta Dreams

Man.  Poor little bean. 

When Nolie was first born, everybody kept asking how Addie was handling the change.  "Fine!"  I kept saying.  "Mostly, she ignores her, but she seems to love her, too."  Addie started school right around the time Nolie was born, too, and was also in the thick of the two's, so at the time it was hard to know if the tantrums and the utter refusal to potty train was a reaction to the big changes in her life, or just sort of a typical evolution for her.

I guess I'm thinking now they were pretty strong reactions to the big changes.  I suppose at the time, I expected to see more obvious signs of distress, if indeed she was experiencing it.  If she didn't like Nolie being there, I guess I thought she'd be hitting her, or biting her, or saying she hated her.  You know, obvious signs of "what the hell is this new stinky crying thing doing in my house and making my mom tired and grouchy and busy for?"  If going to a new school for three full days a week was a difficult transition, I naively thought Addie would say something like, "I hate school!  I'm never going back there!"

Nah.  Instead, she pooped on her bed and spread it on the walls.  She'd pee on the couch, on purpose.  She had wailing, screaming tantrums and night terrors.  I don't think I consciously understood any of this as being connected at the time.

But it's getting clearer to me now, after having made this move and with Addie being at a transitional daycare while we're waiting for her new school to open for the summer.  She's waking at night now, again, sweaty and trembling from nightmares where boys with big, white eyes are eating all her pasta.  She's had one or two potty accidents every day for the last few days.  She clings to me, following me everywhere I go.  These could be normal developmental hiccups, but I'm guessing they're probably closely related to these big life changes. 

Little sweet-pea. 

This is all normal, I know.  My first instinct is to protect her from every last thing.  I was cleaning her room the other day and thinking about the previews for the movie Bug that have been on t.v. (it looks terrifying!).  I thought to myself, if I could prevent her from ever seeing a scary movie in her life, I would.  But then it occurred to me that, after a certain age, that's not a choice I get to make, or even should make.  And protecting our kids from every last thing isn't doing them any favors, anyway.  I know that.

Still, when she wanders, sobbing, into the hall at night, crying out "Mama!" I still leap out of bed, heart pounding, just as I did when she cried in the night as a newborn, wanting to be fed.  It will be hard to adjust that instinct, to let her feel her fears, seek out adventure, and test her boundaries. 

I think, too, about all those parents all around the world who are faced with not being able to protect their kids from horrible things, horrible losses, horrible pain.  And I know, to some extent, the fact that I think I can protect Addie from everything is itself an illusion.  Life will be lived, in all its gorgeousness and hideousness, and it's not my job to flatline that for either of my girls.

The rain and wind rage outside now; the turtledove that was perched on the tree branch outside my office window earlier has sought shelter somewhere else, and the family of bunnies that lives in our backyard is huddled under the deck, waiting for this spring storm to pass.  I know that it will.

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