Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lemonade and Lalaloopsies

He chewed Coral Seashells' leg.

Ask me why, and I cannot tell you. Ethan's not a chewer. He really hasn't ever been. He doesn't even chew his fingernails nervously (like mom). But last night, while he was in the tub, Anna presented Ethan with her Coral Seashells Lalaloopsy doll and said she would loan her to him to play with during his bath, but he had to be very, very careful with her.

And he proceeded to chew her leg.

You can imagine what happened when Anna discovered this. For quite awhile now, her Lalaloopsies have been her "babies." She sleeps in bed with them every night -- all 32 of them, in various shapes and sizes. She dresses them in Barbie clothes, which somehow fit around their bodies despite their freakishly large heads. Her "Lalas" are extended family.

She cried, presenting me with the mark. Not a perfect chew mark, but the skin was rubbed away and there was a tiny hole. We asked Ethan why he did the chewing. Of course he had no reasonable answer.

These are the situations that really get me. These are the situations when I feel like I could teeter into overreaction on either side of the (no pun intended) spectrum. Blow it off as just a bratty brother behavior? Blame autism? What to do when the truth resides somewhere in the middle? And how to explain that to an eight-year-old?

I knew there was one thing we could get right, right off the bat. We could sit Anna down and let her know it was okay to be angry.

For once, this girl who likes holding everything in had no trouble. I watched her purse her lips, staring downwards, tears bristling just below the surface. "I'm angry and I'm sad," she said, and while she was breaking my heart a little, another part of me was cheering. Yes, girl! Please! Always tell us how you're feeling. Don't hold it all in.

We carried on with what I would call a stumbling and bumbling conversation. A two-minute sitcom resolution this was not. A completely confident, eloquent mom I was not. But somehow we managed to talk about what Ethan had done being wrong, how he would have consequences, how it was okay to feel the way she did and the only thing was to try not to hold onto unforgiveness for too long, how I didn't think he intentionally meant to hurt Coral, how sometimes it's hard to know how much he's just being a bratty brother and how much he doesn't understand, how his mind is like a bunch of plugs plugged into different outlets than the plugs in our own minds, how play doesn't come as easily for him and sometimes he may do things like he did because he doesn't know what else to do.

After all that, there was no laugh track audience going "Awww," as we hugged.

"I'm kind of confused," Anna confided. Me too, I wanted to say, while again secretly relishing that she was telling me she was confused. That's how this thing is, sweetie, I wanted to tell her. But I don't think I needed to. I think she knew.

"You're so creative," I said for some reason. "You're like a glass of lemonade spilling over. And Ethan's glass is only a little bit full. Thankfully some of your lemonade trickles over and fills his glass. It's awesome." And even though we never want her to think she has to be there to help Ethan be creative and learn how to play, I was glad I said it. Her face lit up. She smiled.

A few minutes later she was tucked in next to her slightly-marred Coral Seashells with prayers and kisses and admonishments about what an awesome girl God had made her to be. She held Coral tight, snuggled under the blankets, and was asleep in minutes.

1 comment:

Floortime Lite Mama said...

Awwww- I loved the analogy that you used