Monday, November 19, 2007

Buh Bye, Bloon

When I was in sixth grade I wondered if my right and my left would ever come naturally to me. It was one of those difficult concepts for me to grasp. I still say left when I mean right. Not all the time, but frequently enough for it to be disturbing. My friend Caroline taught me how to hold my hands up with thumbs out--see the left hand becomes an "L." You'd be sad for me to know how frequently I indulge in this reminder.

That's why I'm not shocked it takes me a long to time get the hang of this parenting gig. I took Stella in for her two year check up and I got a little handout with useful information. The thing I've thought about for days is the section that talks about being positive rather than negative when giving directions. For example, instead of saying, "Don't run," try, "Walk slowly, please."

I am conscious of this throughout the day. I was conscious of it this morning when I was walking the girls and I forgot Stella's jacket so she wanted me to hold her so she'd stay warm. Really, that's a pleasure. Sure, I'll hold you, little girl.

Then she wants to get down and go in the neighbor's yard.

Please, no.

Then she runs into the middle of the street and this always gets a strong yelp and a swat on the butt for emphasis. Really, though, how bad is a swat through the jeans? She never cries and is barely phased. Awesome. Great parenting. Random swattage that proves no point.

Then she runs back into the neighbor's yard and I chase her. She turns to say, "Uh oh" as she looks over my shoulder. Is this a clever deflection of my attention? No, Gigi is rolling into the street.

Thanks for your help.


I am constantly reflecting these days. Constantly aware of how quickly time goes by. the days, weeks, months. Is it supremely self-absorbed to record that sadness here? That pre-nostalgia for future empty-nestedness? I decided it is not. There is nothing new about the way I feel. There is nothing so poignant in my love for my children and their baby-ness. Everyone feels this. Not everyone writes about it. Some don't dwell on it.


Life is full of letting go. Stella lost a balloon today. She let it go and the helium carried it up. This was a heart-breaking event for her. She cried and mourned that little balloon. She stood out front and watched it until it couldn't be seen anymore.

I wanted to distract her so she'd stop crying. It occurred to me that this was selfish. I just didn't want to be bothered with the tears and the noise. I still have a memory of losing a balloon when I was at Disneyland and I was about Stella's age. It is a sad first thing to lose.

I cried for days when the exchange student from Iceland (or was it Greenland?) returned to her regular fourth grade class in her homeland. I no longer remember her name, but her departure made quite an impression.

Stella will lose much more than a mylar balloon. It's how she deals with that loss that is important. So I stood out front with her until she couldn't see that balloon anymore. We said goodbye and waved, "Buh Bye, Bloon." We blew some kisses. And when she brought it up again later, with sadness, I concurred. It is sad. Does it make it less sad to act like it never happened? Does it hurt her less to diminish the loss?

Writing this all out makes me feel like I'm emphasizing some sort of over-parenting. I don't want to make mountains out of molehills. But right now Stella's sadness is relative to her life. She lost that balloon and it broke her heart. She doesn't realize how many balloons will come into and out of her life. And someday she'll have the same feelings over friends and boys and jobs and other things she loves. I'm just trying to start small alongside her so when the bigger losses arrive maybe she'll be able to share with me.

Have I told you lately that I love her? And little Gianna, too.


jmgb said...

i love this post...the balloons too.

please keep writing.

Christa said...

Reminds me of a poignant loss I once had. My fish mobile.

Leila said...

You have amazing parenting instincts. Trust me on this. You're doing things just right and your girls are very blessed. I wish I had been as wise when I was a young parent!!!

Manuela said...

I really love this post, especially the part about the lost balloon. I am impressed at the way you responded to it. I think it is really important to not pretend that something never happened. Unfortunately our kids will experience a lot of sad things in their lives, and of course we want to protect them as much as possible but there is only so much a parent can do. I often feel like the letting go process starts as soon as they are born. We have to let them experience what it means to loose something, we have to let them experience what it means to be in pain etc. It is hard to see that as a parent. All we can do is love and comfort them and try to teach them how to deal with situations like this. I don't know you but it seems like you really do have a great instinct and I agree that your girls are blessed with such a wise, loving and sensitive Mom.