Monday, January 29, 2007

a sense of accomplishment

last night we had a nice family talk about the new baby. pooka had mentioned that she was scared and since we haven’t really talked about the upcoming changes, we decided to jump on this opportunity. true to form, she tried to change the subject several times, but these were her questions:
1. what if the new baby doesn’t like ‘stingray’ either? this is one of her stuffed animals that she doesn’t like. apparently way back when she got it, she took an immediate dislike to it, but we convinced her to hold onto it for her baby brother or sister (not knowing at that time how long it would take for this sibling to arrive). with her incredible memory, she is bringing this topic up again. we resolved that if the baby doesn’t like stingray, we will give it to the goodwill or some other charity.
2. what if the new baby likes emma more? a-ha! a real soul-baring question. we tried to explain that people love their pets differently than they love their human family members. there could be no real comparison between our love for a pet and our love for a child or sibling or parent. besides, we reasoned, for the first several months, the baby would be completely ignorant of the cat’s existence, but would see and interact with pooka daily. the baby is bound to care more for her sister than the cat. additionally, the cat will probably want nothing to do with the baby for the next 3 years, as that’s about how long it took for the cat to stop running away from pooka.
3. what if i don’t have enough kisses for the baby? another good one, and the one that actually prompted the conversation. we told her that having more people in the family increases love and kisses. more people equal more love. this was probably her asking if WE would have enough love and kisses for HER after the baby arrives. hopefully, we assured her that we would not stop loving her, but that the new sibling would actually bring all of us even more love than we already have for each other. *edited by daddy, who was the recipient of this question. apparently the quote is "what if my sources can't supply my vending machines with enough kisses to go around? they limit me to so many per order". this is a reference to the vending machines where she keeps her spare body parts to replace the ones she loses when 'sword' fighting with daddy.
we finished off this portion of the conversation by declaring that no matter what the new baby brought, we would deal with it as a family because we are a very strong family and as long as we love each other and talk to each other, we can handle anything.

at this point, i tried to delve further into her psyche by asking if she had any other feeling or questions about the baby. was she excited, nervous, happy about anything in particular? i told her that she shouldn’t ask what color the baby’s hair would be because i didn’t know. that made her laugh and we lightened up a bit. she then asked about the baby’s eye color—an easy question, since we all know almost all white babies are born with blue eyes. from there, we took another serious turn as she asked about the baby’s skin color. tricky ground. i told her that because everyone in mommy’s family and everyone in daddy’s family have/had this pink-ish color, that the baby would, too. she asked, “what if it’s black or brown like my friend sean?” oooh, more tricky material, since sean was adopted by white people; a double whammy. (daddy mentioned that if the baby did have a different skin color, mommy would have some serious explaining to do.) i really didn’t end up talking much about the skin color issue. it is not important to pooka why or how people have different skin color, which is good. it is scary to think that we as parents have the power to influence forever how she views people of different color from ourselves with a simple conversation. but thinking about it now, i believe it would be a more difficult conversation to convince her that someone is less of a person or less worth loving simply because of the color of his or her skin. there is so much variation in the appearances of people she has already met, that it’s very acceptable to her to think that a different skin color is of no more import than a different hair or eye color. that is just how God makes us. fortunately, that is a concept that we introduced to her early on.
i did attempt a brief overview of adoption: how sometimes people who made a baby couldn’t take care of it for some reason and found other people who would take the baby in and love them and make them part of their family. sometimes the adopting parents, because of having been sick or because that’s just how God made them, aren’t able to make babies of their own, but through adoption still get to have a loving family and children to raise. she was really intrigued by the adoption idea, and even asked if we knew the name of the lady who carried sean. i thought that was a slightly strange question to ask. i said that i didn’t know, but that sean’s parents probably did. i mentioned that often the ladies who carry the babies want to meet the people who are going to adopt the babies, to make sure that they are good people and will do a good job of raising the babies. i tried to avoid for now the other aspects of adoption that can be a bit scarier, like orphanages or traumatized under-age mothers. pooka wanted me to ask sean’s mommy about the lady’s name, which brought us to another important topic: how some things are just none of our business.

of course through this whole discussion, my eyes were leaking like the titanic because i am a huge sap when it comes to emotional topics. i don’t know if we answered all her questions and concerns about the impending arrival of the stranger. i don’t know that she fully understands her own feelings about it. but i know that with her intelligence, and our fairly high level of communication, and our devotion to our family, we will all get through this transition successfully. this was definitely one of those nights where you get a supremely satisfying feeling that you have fulfilled your parenting duties to the best of your ability and have actually enriched your child by teaching them some of the really important things in life. to my immediate recollection, i have had 3 of those nights in the past 6 months. i think that’s pretty good.