Thursday, June 5, 2008
My oldest is only 3 1/2. I have to tell myself this over and over when she's yelling at me, when she throws her attitude my way and yes even when, I'm ashamed to say, she cusses. The cussing thing I blame on her father although I can admit that I've thrown a cuss word around once in awhile when I'm really angry! But he cusses over the smallest annoyances so his is more frequent and a lot more noticeable! The first time she said a not-so-nice word, it was sort of cute. We laughed. And then, of course, she liked that we laughed so she did it again. Then, as she got a little older, she realized that cuss words were words we seemed to use to express being upset or annoyed at something. So, when we sent her to her room, the cuss words would fly. It's no longer cute. We are working on this and it's gotten a lot better with all of us.
But aside from the cussing and the attitude, I really do have to remember that she is only 3 1/2. I forget sometimes, I'm guessing because she's my oldest, that she isn't as independent as I think she is. I almost get annoyed at this in the moments when I have forgotten she's still really just a baby. She's very helpful with her little brother and sister and she does most basic things herself like getting juice cups out for me to fill, getting herself dressed (although we do have to help her sometimes), feeding herself, going to the potty by herself, etc. But in the middle of the night, when she's having one of her night terrors or when she just wants to snuggle in our bed, I am instantly aware that she is not grown up after all.
I look at her and each day she gets taller, learns more words, learns more mannerisms and tones of voice. She says the craziest things some days, things you wouldn't think would come from a 3 1/2 year old. I often expect more from her, which I know I shouldn't. Sometimes I expect her to have adult understanding of the way things work in life or of how emotional I can be and why. But she does not.
Long ago she lost her baby face. It was replaced with a child's face but she seems even older than a child somehow. When I look in her eyes, I see innocence but I also see wisdom. I am unsure as to how to handle her some days, especially when she acts like a little baby. I have to remind myself constantly that she is still so young and that she needs me in so many ways, despite that wisdom I perceive. Some days I am crushed when all I want is to gather her in my arms and hold her and I am met with annoyance and a resistant "Mom, I'm doing something..." Other days I am annoyed when she is the one asking me to hold her. Some days she sucks her thumb. Others she'd rather help me with chores and taking care of the baby.
My daughter is caught in a stage where she is trying to figure out where her place in the family is, I think. She feels like she's lost her status and in some ways, she has. She is no longer the baby or the only child. Two years ago, my son was born taking both of those titles from her. Now she is contending with another baby, vying for my attention with two other needy children. I feel that somehow she senses that most days she will lose this race, especially when the baby is exceptionally fussy or her brother is throwing fits. I'm afraid for her, I do not want her to grow up feeling like there was never enough left for her. I try to spend time with her by herself. Her daddy usually takes just her if he's going somewhere and wants to take a kid.
I don't know what else to do for her except to give her lots of hugs and look into her beautiful blue eyes, tell her how much I love her and hope that somewhere in the depths of her wisdom she understands. After all, behind that child's face lies the face of a baby and even in her wise soul there beats the heart of an innocent being.