Friday, April 08, 2011

Tender Heart

I think we all love all of our children - no one is going to argue that - but am I the only one who sometimes feels differently toward my children? It makes sense, right? We have lots of friends and family we love, but our feelings toward them aren't all identical. I know my children are young and have lots of growing and changing left to do. I know my feelings about who they are and what they need from me will also change over time.

Harper needs her mom the way all kids do, but she has never really seemed to need extra from me, and seems to be actively pushing a way from me much of the time.

Michael is a totally different beast. Where Harper pushes, Michael curls in, snuggles, clings. There are days I swear he would crawl back into the womb if he could.

As I tuck Michael in at night he always asks me, tearfully, to stay in his room. When I ask why he wants me to stay the answer is always the same, "Becat me luf you." (Because I love you.)

If I am leaving the house he always looks at me and says, "You no go."

It is April and finally, three days in a row, he didn't cry when I dropped him off at school. (But don't worry too much, he never cried for more than a few seconds after I left.)

Last week, in the midst of our time with visitors, I had to run with Michael to his first dentist appointment.

Waiting room Michael - BEFORE the traumatic dental experience.
Can you imagine how well my sensitive boy liked having strangers poke around in his mouth? He did NOT. And I underestimated how difficult it would be as Harper's first dental visit ended up being a piece of cake.
There was a lot of screaming, thrashing, begging to go home. We'd get him to calm down (he was trying so hard to cooperate) and then as soon as he felt any kind of dental instrument in his mouth he would freak out all over again. It was horrible.

The hygienist had the patience of a saint and remained very calm, for which I am so grateful. I had some serious cut and run reflexes firing in my brain. It feels completely unnatural to force a child to stay in a situation which he perceives as being terrifying/painful - especially one that goes on for a significant amount of time. Handling vaccinations pales in comparison to this dental experience - at least they are over quickly.

SOMEHOW his teeth eventually were cleaned and he even tried to put on a brave smile for a picture. You'll notice he was allowed to rinse the old fashioned way - the hygienist knew not to go near him with the squirter and suction things!

To add insult to injury the dentist himself snapped at me when he was trying to get a look at Michael's teeth. He wanted me to be quiet (I was still doing my best frantic verbal calming) so he could talk to Michael, which is fine, but I wasn't the screaming three-year-old and I would have appreciated some manners.

By the time we got back into the car I was exhausted and shaking - which sounds kind of ridiculous now but you weren't there - you didn't hear the screaming.

The whole dental thing just made me think about how deep my instinct is to want to shield Michael from the world.

Of course I don't want Harper to be hurt or scared or sad either. She just seems...tougher, somehow. I worry a little less about what the world is going to throw her way because she strikes me as such a capable kid.

I don't want to protect Michael to the point that I am holding him back. I hope I am just honoring who he is and how he is different from his sister. He needs a little more hand-holding for now. Whether it is a boy/girl thing or first/second child thing or just a Harper/Michael thing - he doesn't seem in such a hurry to grow up and that's really fine with me.


P.S. A few weeks ago Lucy Sisman interviewed me - the resulting profile is running on her website this week.


CARRIE said...

If it is any consolation, this last dental visit in March was the first time G didn't scream/cry/wail at the dentist.

And I think I probably would have smacked the dentist straight up in his mouth (I am assuming you didn't do that.....). I understand that they want the child to trust them and listen to them, but they also have to understand that seeing one's child that upset is terribly upsetting for any kind of loving parent.

Do you think because Michael arrived earthside so early it plays a roll in how you connect with him now?

I know over here I sometimes forget that G isn't 7 like N, and I sometimes think I unwittingly expect him to behave more mature even though he probably acts very much like she did at the same age.

I love the pic of him after the dental trauma. Very sweet!

Btw, Harper has a letter on the way....N was gangbusters to write her.

Emily said...

First of all, that bath picture? Could be Harper.

I love this post because I feel the SAME way about Katy/David. Katy is for sure tougher. David is the cuddler, more sensitive, more scared, etc. And as much as I am worried about Katy and kindergarten next year, I can't even FATHOM how I'm going to handle it when it's time for him to go. Who knew that we'd feel this way about our boys?

So sorry about the dentist trip (rude dentist!), I would've been shaking/crying, too. David had his first with Katy about 6 months ago, and I think that going after Katy was helpful. But if Michael was gonna scream that much, I'm sure he would have needed more than an example to calm him. Poor kid.

By the way, Cindy is trying to decide between May 21st and June 4th. I'll let you know when it's firm.

Val said...

How funny. My kids are the same way! My oldest, Cadence, is 6. She has always been very go-go-go and not as much cuddly and snuggly. Sure she'll snuggle on a Saturday morning, or during a TV break from time to time, but more often than not- she's got things to do and things to play.

My son, Trevor, he is my little snugglebug. He's softer. Calmer. Snuggly-ier and lovey-er. He's 3. And I can only hope that this part of his personality continues as he grows.

As for the dentist visit - I totally understand. Are you seeing a pediatric dentist? Do you have that option? Trevor's first appt did not go well, but we did not get the hygienist I like. Since then I have purposely made our appts with the good hygienist. ;)

bluedaisy said...

Liam is my cuddle bear...and my tender heart. I love this quality about him. I hope these boys keep this sweet nature :)

Sarah said...

Funny, this is exactly exactly how I relate to my first two kids. Addy gets defensive and angry when corrected, for instance, while Eli bursts into tears and has his feelings hurt, then wants to be hugged. I think this: kids have different needs. You can love your kids equally and still relate to them very differently. They're still people, just like adults, and you don't judge yourself, say, for relating to your siblings differently. Why should your children be different? We all have our own needs/strengths/weaknesses.