Monday, January 01, 2007

My China Doll

My little angel is surely growing up. I am savoring these moments with her that I know will soon disappear as she enters into her adolescence. She is only seven years old, but I can't help to think about this especially after the type of conversation we had tonight. We were driving home, and she told me that she feels that her life is just miserable. That she just doesn't feel right these days. She went on to explain how she felt by comparing herself to Mumble the Penguin, in the movie Happy Feet.

"Look, you know how Mumble was dropped by his father when he was still in his shell and when he was born, he couldn't sing like the others, but only could dance. All the other penguins made fun of him and he always had a hard time."

"I feel like that because I am always hurting myself, tripping and falling down."

"And I am always getting in trouble, just like him. My life is just getting harder for me."

" There is more, but I don't feel like talking about it now."

It's hard for me to express in words how that made me feel. I was thrilled that she was opening up and sharing with me her thoughts and feelings. That she trusted and felt comfortable to do so. Of course, she's my daughter, but even at seven, children won't neccessarily do this.

I also was very proud of her with the way she choose to analyze her situation. She must have been giving it a lot of thought and to be able to find that analogy and express and articulate it so brilliantly, really floored me. Especially because it's been over a month since when we saw the movie.

And I felt sadness - that she is feeling this pain. I didn't push her into telling me anything else, I just left it up to her to talk to me whenever she needs to - that I am always there to listen and so is daddy. I then asked her if she wanted to talk with her school counselor, which she only knows her as the nice friend at school that helps different children. She is actually a Special Ed. teacher but since it's such a small school, with only 80 children, she has many roles. Nat said that she did want to meet with her tomorrow, but was afraid that she wouldn't have time for her. I reassure her that her favorite friend will always make time for her.

I know that many people pooh pooh the times we live in; that we are too self absorbed and too into getting therapy whenever there is a problem. I think it's very healthy that our children are aware of these resources. That they know they always have an outlet and are comfortable with asking for help without the stigma attached to it. No way could I have ever imagined this conversation when I was a child. Noone even thought about sending me to a counselor when my mother died at age 6. Noone ever spoke about my mother's death or how I was coping with it. It happen, you moved on and adjust.

This is going to be an increasingly hard week for both of the kids. My father-n-law was diagnosed a few weeks ago with liver cancer and passed away yesterday afternoon. We were very fortunate to have spent both holidays with him, Chanukah and Christmas, when he was not too frail for the grandkids. We explained to Natalie about his disease. Thanks to
Randi for her words of wisdom on how to best broach the subject. Upon her suggestion, we made a clear distinction between being sick and a disease, such as cancer. So often we use the word sick and we forget that children take it so literally and it's very easy for them to become anxious whenever they learn someone is "sick." There is a fear that the person who is sick will die too.

Children find all sorts of ways of coping that may not make any sense to us, adults. We just need to be able to recognize the signs, trust our instincts and always have an open mind and plenty of room in our hearts so they will feel secure and comfortable to come to us with anything on their minds.

Just a little funny and unrelated sidenote - last week when Nat and I were visiting NY, we went into Manhattan to gaze at many of the famous department store Christmas windows. To warm up we went into Bergdorf Goodman(cuz there is no other reason for us to be in such an upscale store) and we ooh and ahh over the $100 earmuffs that were on sale and the cool purses and such. We made a detour to the restroom which is on the 7th floor, aka the China, Vases and other beautiful gifts that are too expensive to ever even consider purchasing, so lets keep our hands to ourself and be very careful, kinda floor. As we were making our way through, Natalie said "Mommy, this floor looks just like Grandma's house." Of course, I had to immediately call my MIL. It's no wonder that our Nat is Grandma's favorite grandaughter. How can any child top that. ; )


cruisin-mom said...

Jaime: what a BEAUTIFUL post (and not just because you mentioned my name!)...I love everything you have expressed here.
Your posting is so wonderfully honest. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. It is so much better that today there is a place for kids to express what they're feeling and have the safety to do it.

Sweettooth120 said...

Thanks Randi

torontopearl said...

Jaime, I'm so sorry to hear about your father-in-law's illness and recent death. You have so much to contend with these days, it seems.
I can imagine the pain you feel when your daughter talks as she does. Your aim is to protect her, but when she recognizes her own weaknesses abd voices her troubles, you can not do much but lend her your ear and a kind word of advice.
You are a sensitive and loving mom, and hopefully your daughter will work through her issues "with a little help from her friends."
I wish you and the family the best. Please pass on my condolences to your husband.

Sweettooth120 said...

Thank you Pearl. I will pass it on to David and his family.

Another meshugannah mommy said...

this was an amazing post. It brought tears to my eyes to think that your daughter was comfortable enought to open up. And, there's nothing wrong with seeking help when it is needed! I am so sorry about your father-in-law. Your words concerning sickness vs. disease rang so true to me. My kids lost their great-grandmother a month ago and are still having a tought time with it. I am going to remember your words...

Sweettooth120 said...

AMM, Thank you, and again, thank you Randi for passing on some very wise advice on how to talk with children. It's her words that we thought about when deciding on how to talk with our children.

Update: I spoke with my son who will be five in March, that grandpa is no longer with Grandma. That he is with Hashem. Because my FiL was a baker and owned a bakery, I asked my son if he thought Nick was making challah with Hashem. He laughed and said no Mama. So I asked, "What about cookies?" and he laughed and said yes, "chocolate chip cookies." Because Nick was Italian, I said, "What about spaghetti?" "No Mama, pizza, he's making pizza with Hashem."

So there you have it, without a doubt, Hashem has great taste when it comes to culinary delights - chocolate chip cookies and pizza!

PsychoToddler said...

I'm sorry to hear about your father in law's passing. Baruch Dayan Emes.

It is a good feeling when your child feels he/she can open up to you and express their feelings.

I kid around about Iguana talking to me about puberty, but I think it's a great reflection on our relationship that she feels comfortable discussing these things with me. I could never see some of my other kids doing that.

Sweettooth120 said...

Thank you PT. I will pass on your condolences to the family.

Iguana and Puberty? You're a brave brave man.

Jack's Shack said...

Sorry to hear about your FIL. This was a very nice post.

Stacey said...

Jaime, this post made me cry. How wonderful that your daughter was able to let you know that something's amiss with her. This is a testament to your relationship and the mother that you are. I had no idea your FIL had taken ill with cancer. Please extend my condolences to your family. I am thinking of you all.

Sweettooth120 said...

Jack and Stacey - thank you very much.

To each of you who have passed on condolences, my husband and his family thank you all.

Bea said...

I hardly know what to say reading about all that you wrote about Natalie. Its wonderful that you are so understanding.

Times have changed so much, I, as a child never had such thougts, and doubt that my Mother wouldn't have pooh-poohed if I ever mentioned anything like that.

Would love to hear what has transpired, for a 7 year old to voice her feelings is indeed remarkable.

Hope your new year will be happy, healthy, and downright wonderful.

Sandy said...

Good title, My China Doll. Yes, we are all fragile at any age. Natalie is a smart girl, and you are a very good writer. Sorry to hear about David's stepfather dying, and so quickly. Life is quite a challenge.

Claire said...

What a great post. The way you articulate things is quite beautiful.


Wishing I was a said...

Jamie, this was my first time reading your blog (instructed to do so by Crusin Mom!) I was touched by how sensitive and open you are, with us, and with your daughter. I am very sorry about your fil, and love that your children feel the loss because that means he was important to them in a loving way. My mother is battling (and so far winning the battle) ovarian cancer right now and it struck me that I have used the sentence "Before Nina got "sick".... Now my kids are older (16 & 13), but I wonder if I am painting a proper picture. Thanks to you and Randi for making me aware of that distinction....

Your daughter's willingness to be open with you is a reflection of how safe you've made her feel about expressing herself! Good for you! I will look forward to reading more of your blog! ~Wishing~

Jewish Smörgåsbord said...

Very sad and yet very inspiring post. I am sorry to hear about your FIL, please pass on my condolences.

You seem to be a wonderful mother!

marallyn ben moshe said...

what a beautifully written kids still come to me and we my youngest (23) said recently, 'when we want the truth we go to abba...when we want to feel good we come and talk to you' lovely...sounds to me that you and yours will keep the lines of communication open for years and years also...i am so sorry to hear about your FIL AH...may you and yours know no more sorrow...stay safe

cheated are the clouds said...

It is amazing that children can understand yet alone analyze their feelings, you have a special daughter and you being such a caring mom who took the time to listen without making a small deal of her situation, the fact you took action makes you a great example for many others who have children, to often the conversation is made light of because of the childs age, nice going being there for her, you are a hero

Sweettooth120 said...

Wow - so many new faces visitng me. Thanks to each of you for your kind words, praise and condolences. I really appreciate hearing from each of you and taking time to visit my blog.

Yes, my daughter is quite special and I am working really hard in helping her accomplish many goals that are not only a challenge for her but to us as a family (you may want to read my previous post - The Naked Blogger.) Having this blog as an outlet has been wonderful. Thanks again for your lovely thoughts.

Warm regards, Jaime