Seeing Through to Validity

Validating Children
Their Thought Patterns, Feelings, and Perception of Their World.
_________________________________________________________

We are still traveling. My daughter has become a Little Traveler. I have become a wreck of an excuse for a woman, to say nothing of a wife or mama.

On the upside, we are finally under contract on a house, but won’t close until the end of the first week of September; posts between now and then will be minimal, though likely therapeutic. We have basically been carting the clan around from Grandma’s, to a furnished condo for a month, to a hotel for a couple weeks, and who knows what in between, for the last 7 weeks. So, like I should expect anything else but turmoil and difficulty from my two year old who understands so much, but not quite enough, and very little when it comes to abstract things like the future.

Wanting to keep discussions going however, I thought I’d throw out my latest topic of the week.   Monsters.

Yep, my daughter suddenly sees monsters. They’re everywhere. I ripped her from her foundation, her stability, and from the security of “home”, and to say the fallout compares to that of Chernobyl would be an almost fair comparison. Perhaps I should have seen the Monster thing coming.

This is a nightmare.

She never saw monsters before and was certainly not afraid of those she did see on tv. She liked them in fact, especially the Sesame Street variety. Now she and her baby are constantly demonstrating insecurity and trepidation. I am so grieved that I can’t make it through a single day without tears or silently breaking down. Her Papa and I have both worked so hard to instill confidence, security, and strength in her and we knew that this “move” was going to be really tough. But none of our plans have worked out the way we’d hoped, so we’re just sorta winging this day to day, and that is the single worst thing we could have allowed to become reality at this stage in her development.

Let’s talk regression. Let’s talk no longer will she poop because she wants to go home and won’t poop anywhere but home, and she refuses to tell me when she has to pee… AND since she doesn’t have a home and her bathroom, or the run of her environment, etc., she won’t just go pee on her own because well, the toilet is too tall, the seat is split and her legs get hurt, and the Bumbo actually tore a few days ago. Oh and she’s terrified that “this” toilet (insert toilet model/location of choice) is going to either flush on its own and thereby send her into an instant and horrified panic, or it will be so loud when it does flush on command that she doesn’t want to go anywhere near it. Pick an issue (the bucket is full), or combination thereof, or random reason (like she’s stuck in a damn car seat for hours on end as we traipse across the state trying to make this work somehow). No surprise she just doesn’t see the point in tending to her pottying needs effectively.

It’s horrible.

And I can’t let her think for one second that I have no clue what I’m doing. Or can I?

If she sensed that I am floundering just as much as she is to grasp this situation, just from a different angle, she will likely fall apart at the seams, or so I thought. But, I learned something this week. I learned that my kid has a perceptiveness and awareness light years beyond even what I thought, and I had already given her a pretty high ranking. Her cognitive development seems to have chosen now to kick into high gear. I’m not sure this is a good thing, but here we are.

I lost it the other day, couldn’t keep up the facade, and just broke down and told my little kid what I was dealing with. She asked why I was sad and why I was crying. I told her that I was so sad that we couldn’t just go home right then, as she’d asked me to. I was sad that she was struggling with the environment I had placed us in, and all the stress (details of this in part two of this post) that her little self seemed to be dealing with. I was very sad that she was scared of monsters and that she couldn’t just have her room, her house, and her Papa right then! (He was working a couple hours away for a couple days and stayed at a hotel.)

She told me that she was also “Scrug-gul-ying a lot because (her) baby was afraid of the kabooms (thunder) and the monsters (that are everywhere now, in the dark, the light, otherwise), and that she (her baby) needed her (my daughter), but that it was hard”. Which, of course, brought a new flood of tears from me. The ache is unable to be ignored.

She has decided to choose this period to first become very attentive to a doll, her “baby”. She has also decided to personify her own needs, thoughts, and feelings through those of this doll, and in her tending to it. The really positive side of this is my husband and I get to see first hand, tangibly demonstrated, how she sees our parenting of her, and her life. Particularly, as she is a girl (she says) she is the mama (she says), and so she mimics with her doll what she and I share and do together. I am humbled and so pleased because I know from this that I’m doing what this little one needs. BUT I am also horrified because in the same vein, I am forced to see exactly what harm and damage I have allowed to occur to her through all of this.

I cannot adequately explain all of what our life is like right now, but basically, we have chosen to make a career path modification that will eventually lend the opportunity for all of us (Mama, Papa, Bug 1 and maybe others, and canine kid) to spend a much greater amount of time together. No more of Papa having to leave for an office at 8am, not to return until at least 6pm, work from home half or more of the time, overnight a good amount, and basically be at the beck and call of the company around the clock, all the time. – Not so good for family…

We have chosen this path to give us the opportunity to live in an area that is diverse culturally (though some would question the validity of that statement, it is true nonetheless). It is also an area that provides for more real estate for less money than we are accustomed to struggling through, less population and stress than we’re used to tolerating, and views as far as the eye can see. In fact, the only objects that obstruct those views are mountains 50 to 100 miles off.

This path will allow for more time and energy to be given to our creativity, our craft, our passions, and her education and growth. Basically, it is a dream come true in that it pays more, living costs are less, and as a whole, our family will just simply be together a lot more and Mama and Papa get to equally raise and parent, instead of Mama’s work being parenting and Papa’s work being something else that leaves no time or energy to give the parenting gig a fair chance.

So, in the end, we will be much better than where we have been, but the getting there is a monumental effort and lesson in a thousand things that go in as many different directions, and my little tiny person is stuck right in the middle, being pulled apart.

I have had a lot of people tell me recently that I am making too much of this, that my daughter will adapt just fine, and that she won’t remember any of it anyway. Unfortunately for them, and more so for me, they’re wrong. I will write later about how I know her memory is undeniably accurate and undiminished, and in the mean time, I will tell you she is adapting only in that she is becoming cynical. And as far as this situation not being the impact in reality that I am “making it into”, I will let her voice speak for her reality (will follow this topic throughout this thread, which will likely span a few posts in the next week).

Seeing through the mess to validation. Facing the face of insecurity, crumbled foundation, and the calloused need of others to make less of everything as a method of assisting the guilt and grief ridden mind of the responsible adults, who aren’t asking for relief, but empathy. This is my daily task. This is my little bug’s daily misery.

In the midst of this, as if it’s not already enough, I am being forced to defend the validity of the very real feelings, thoughts, and new found experience with fear my daughter is struggling with to those with whom we are interacting in person (and not so in-person, for that matter). These people have an influence on her daily activities and existence, to one degree or another. They believe they are helping, but one key factor is forgotten and/or overlooked in their method, my daughter’s legitimacy. They don’t want to allow themselves to acknowledge the grief and guilt, as it might strike at them too, so they tell her (and me) that she’s just fine and that she is actually quite oblivious, or at least won’t remember any of this turmoil.

But I am here to tell the entire world that – if only – my daughter WERE just fine and blissfully oblivious, I would go to, and HAVE BEEN TRYING to go to such lengths as whatever were necessary to continue her being able to exist in such a state. Alas, that is not the case. My kid is too aware to miss a single detail, too sensitive to miss even the tiniest hint of expression, and too discerning that she could possibly sail through this mercifully unaware. So instead, I have to be brutally honest with myself, and accept the consequences of this journey. I must be omnisciently, selectively, intuitively honest with her (since I hold this power…). And I must summon an emotional stability beyond anything I can comprehend just to keep her eating, sleeping, pottying sort of, and playing in her safe and happy world to some decent duration on a daily basis. And where am I in all this? My husband and I have our own issues, relational challenges, and where am I? I can’t exist, except in theory and performance.

See why we so desperately need this to be concluded? In all of it, one benefit I have gained is the perspective I now have of just how immensely aware of her world my little bug really is. This compels me to never loose site and never become careless of the reality that absolutely everything I do, we do, or that happens within close enough proximity that my baby’s bubble is bumped, has an effect on her.

We’ve tried pretending everything’s fine.

We’ve tried acknowledging her concerns, but trying to either distract or encourage her to see them in a lighter hue of ominousness.

Neither worked. Neither are working. It doesn’t work to tell her she shouldn’t, isn’t, or can’t feel what she is fully capable of communicating she is feeling and is her reality. She tells us exactly what’s going on in her mind and it brings me to my knees, usually literally (that’s about where I have to be to get face to face).

As a result, we have reluctantly, and with extensive consideration for the long term effects, chosen to instead deal with each comment, each nuance of body language, and each whimper in her sleep as directly and with complete and utter validity, on her level and our own, as we can muster. We’ve decided to leave ourselves completely open, exposed, and vulnerable to her, and she seems to be willing to accept nothing short of this. She sees through anything else and tells us about how we’ve made her feel like she is not important, intelligent, or old enough to fully and openly acknowledge at a core level. Children don’t buy it… they don’t know how to play the game much less want to. Furthermore, they aren’t even aware that there is a game until we (the stupid adults) decide to force them to become aware and learn.

I can’t say yet what good I hope comes of all this, but I do hope something useful and beneficial reveals itself.. I know the end is near and worth the journey, but my daughter didn’t have a choice in whether she was going to join us on this journey. She is too young to think in future terms, her mind hasn’t developed that function yet, but she sure can think in the present and tangible, and she’s mad at me. And in my utter sorrow, she has every right to be.

3 thoughts on “Seeing Through to Validity

  1. Thanks for this post. I feel your (and her) pain! I believe that kids can get through anything, as long as they can feel their feelings. They pick up all of their equilibrium from their environment and routine, but above all, from you. And if you can allow her to feel all of those “negative” emotions, she will also be comforted by her growing sense of her self. Not sure how old your daughter is, but I highly recommend doing some pretend play w/stuffed animals or dolls who feel the feelings you’re all having now. Works wonders.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: