January 22, 2013

A Difference In Constitution

[photo November 17, 2012]

I have mentioned a million times on this blog how my girls are different. I repeat it to remind myself, because it’s a part of storytelling, and also because I want to remember how wonderful the differences are between Hayley and Mabel. Because as they continue to grow and weave together as blended sisters are wont to do, some of these special moments might blur in my mind. And these special moments are the ones that stretch me as a mama.

Over the Christmas holiday uncle Bret came up for a visit with his little peeps. For the second year in a row, we went sledding before gathering for dinner at sister Gretchen’s house. We got several inches of snow just before Christmas and our favorite hill was just perfect for it [our favorite hill is minus trees]. And slick.

We arrived in the late afternoon because it took no less than an hour to get all six of us ready and geared up to leave the house. I had to remind everyone to pee and then forgot to go myself. My Jedi husband asked me if we should start getting the littles ready ahead of schedule and I assured him we could rock it out quickly. I was an idiot. I forgot; I am no longer the control freak mama who used to lay out clothes in an effort to be proactive (single mom method, see). Since I was not proactive, we were my very LEAST favorite thing: REactive. And late to the hill. So, it was the afternoon when we got there and there were already a hundred kids darting through the snow.

We found Gretchen and Bret and their kids, and our 4 scattered in the powder. They made snow angels, they linked up with cousins, and they were halfway down the hill before we were ready with the camera. Ahem.

Each child had their own sled. Mabel got a disc this time and she sat down on it and asked Uncle Bret to send her flying down. “Push me fast!” she squealed. She hadn’t seen Bret in almost a year, but she was there for FUN! The disc flipped around backwards about halfway down and her eyes got really big. But she smiled and screamed, “Whoooooooooo!!!!” until she came to a rest at the bottom with all the other Whoooo-ers. She stood up, climbed the hill alone thankyouverymuch, and repeated this eleventy seven times. Strong and fearless constitution.

Trevor and Andy were doubling up with cousin Will and flying down the smashed snow mounds before I could ask them to slow down and not put their eyes out, please.

Hayley got a long sled and found the perfect launching spot for her first go. She nestled her little legs inside the edges and we lined her up. We waited for another group of kids to finish their trip down the hill. Then as she began to slide forward, we reminded her to steer with her hands and to lean, avoiding the kids at the bottom. Unfortunately, she didn’t pay attention to us and pulled her hands into the sled instead. She also didn’t pay attention to the fact that there was a cluster of young children who had walked right into her spot. Hayley was over the hill hump by then, flying down at unknown speeds per hour. And I promise you, when she hit that little boy at the bottom, he had absolutely no idea what had catapulted his body 5 feet.

She hit that boy with a force of… oh my lord, I have no idea.

We all saw it coming. We all shouted, “Hayley, LEAN!!!” but lean, she did not. Aunt Gretchen grabbed my arm and gasped as Hayley’s sled hit the boy full on, going oh my lord, I have no idea how fast.

We all waited to see if the boy would have a head once Hayley flattened him. And he did. And then we waited to see if the lump of his body moved, which he also did. In fact, he looked up at us and blinked, shocked. Thank God snow is slickery! Hayley’s missile slicked right on over him. I’m sure he went home with a headache, but he was none the worse for wear. If you’re going to sled, natural consequences can include a collision.

Hayley on the other hand, did not fare so well, bless her heart.

She was not injured. She had landed quite softly upon the boy’s puffer coat and stocking cap, after all, and then coasted slowly to a stop about 20 feet later. She got off her sled, stood up, and crumpled up her little pink face.

Bryon ran down, dodging little people bullets the whole way, and retrieved our girl from the bottom. He walked her back up, pulling her sled behind. I knew she’d be scared and need hugging.

She was wailing.

Once we’d made sure she was okay, we cuddled and shook the scare off. It’s hard to be part of a missile! It’s hard to freight train a kid in the face, too, I reckon. I mean, she probably stared at the whites of his eyes with the whites of her eyes. Just because nobody was hurt doesn’t mean she couldn’t act wrecked for life is what I’m saying.

After we all knew everything was okay, we all went back to sledding. Mabel, Trevor, Andy, cousins, Uncles, myself (ahem). It was so fun! Each time the adults would ask Hayley if she wanted to double up and try again. Each one of us took a different approach: some soothing, some suck-it-up, some ‘we’ll go slow’, and some ‘let me steer!’ but each time, Hayley would start to wail and back away from the crowd.

Wail, People. Not cry, WAIL. Folks, I struggle with the wailing. This is a sound that better be reserved for the presence of blood or a kidnapper, in my opinion. Anything other than that, no ma’am.

We’d been there 6 minutes when Hayley had accidentally slogged the crap out of that little boy. Everyone was safe and healthy. There was no reason to end the day after this natural consequence of sledding. And so I comforted, I hugged, and in the end – I sat her down alone to finish her tantrum alone. The other 7 kids there were having a ball and I’d hoped that her curiosity would prevail. It broke my heart that she refused to try again, but only she could learn the lesson to get back on the horse. Or the sled, so to speak. And no complaining about being left out if you’re making the choice not to go again.

So she watched from the back. A couple of hours later we returned to the car. Everyone was covered in snow and exhausted, except for Hayley. Everyone went on and on for an hour about “did you see me spin, Mom? Did you see that?” except for Hayley.

Sigh. I WORRY about her life. Some boy, some car, some something is going to take her out and I cannot handle the thought of her just laying there at the bottom of life’s hill, and wailing. That’s it? That’s all there is? NO WAY. Sigh. I need to add that I’ve seen her have instances like this before: a crash, an argument, some type of accident where there is a choice on what to do next. Where she could let everything ruin her day or where she could pick herself up, dust herself off, and continue on. In some cases, she dusts off and keeps going. We are quick to tell her how proud we are of her then! But there are times that it sticks in her for good merit, and times she milks it for all its worth. And when she does, I have to remind myself of her kind and gentle heart, soft as a puppy lick. This gives me some pause and time to reword the same message: KEEP GOING. If she chooses not to, that is her choice.

I am used to aggressive. The boys, even Mabel is aggressive. Mabel wants something and she goes for it – backwards in this case. If she crashes (and she did crash on this day), she stands up to evaluate for blood, and then goes back to action. If she gets in trouble, she apologizes and moves on. There is no time for crying. There is more to life than licking your wounds. I am not used to this ‘stop everything and heal the little feelings’ mentality. I am not good at it. I am used to a stronger constitution. And so Hayley is making me grow, too.

And so while I am praying for Hayley’s constitution to strengthen up a bit, for the times when life will hand her a hot pile of crap [F on a test, flunked midterm, asshole boyfriend, lying friend, stained prom dress, death, accidents, miscarriage or divorce] – I am also praying for my own stretch as a mama.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Rachel! So hard! I've found about the only way to handle something like this is to divert the child's attention. It can feel like a copout, but really, there maybe some simple way to get her stop wallowing in fear and to buy back into whatever challenge confronts her. Sometimes we have to meet children where they are and patiently show them how to get where we want them to go. Sounds like she needs to work on building resiliency, with more scaffolding than you are used to. Just remember that she is asynchronous in this, and has time and love on her side, to grow.

    Prayers for all of your hearts and continuing strength. Maybe this will be helpful? http://practicalpages.wordpress.com/2010/11/25/report-and-evaluation-pages/ Or working through 1000 Gifts? http://www.aholyexperience.com/2012/03/how-to-help-raise-grateful-kids/