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Posts Tagged ‘growing up’

Of late, both C and I have had our share of bad moods.  Our sleepless nights and frustrating days often make for an awkward Mommy-Baby relationship.  I am typically his worst enemy (being the one who wields the nose suctioning torture device and evil wash- cloth) and his greatest ally (being the one who holds him all night and feeds him delicious cheese).

Our torture sessions typically go something like this: I wrap one arm around C, pinning his arms to his side, and lean back into the bed to keep his head still.  As he screams bloody murder, I use my other arm to guide the suction into his little nose.  More screaming.  I switch to the other side of his nose.  More screaming.  Finally I release him.  For approximately 20 seconds C sits still and just cries, eyes clenched shut in anger.  Then, suddenly, he looks around for me.  He reaches out his little arms for me.  I pull him into my lap, kissing his head.  For the next minute or so, C alternately pushes me away and pulls me to him, gripping my shirt/skin/hair in his little hands, so intense is his misery.  As he calms down, he usually decides he wants to get away from me as fast as possible, motioning to be put down.  I oblige.  C then scoots away from me, happily breathing through both nostrils.  Within minutes it’s as if the whole episode never happened.

Or so it would seem.

However, my son appears to be more mischievous than I previously suspected.

Often after these torture sessions, whether with the suction bulb, wash-cloth, or comb, C leans into my shoulder, mouth open, slobbering on to me.  Sometimes that’s all it is.  Other times, the little minx gives me a little nip!  C knows now exactly how much pressure to exert so that he doesn’t actually hurt me, but still enough to elicit an “OW!!” from me.  And every time that startled “OW!!” slips past my lips, my precious son gives me a scrunchy face, mischievous little grin, a little reminder that my son is growing up.

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When I was growing up I never had a problem talking to adults.  It may have been due to that fact that I looked more like an adult than a child from the age of 12 on.  I think, though, that it had a lot more to do with the fact that I was the oldest of three girls and the 4th oldest of 20+ grandkids.  I had been treated as one of the adults for as long as I can remember.  So, I had no problem talking to adults twice or three times my age.  I was good with parents.  So good sometimes, that my friends would complain to me afterwards that their parents would ask them why they couldn’t be more like me.  An unfortunate side effect, but one of few.

This ability also instilled in me a sense of confidence to talk to adult, in any situation.   Some of these situations would horribly embarrass my sister.  We would be out to dinner as a family and the couples at the next table might mention their student went to a particular school, or discuss a movie but couldn’t remember the actor’s name who was in it.  I would politely excuse myself for butting in and make small talk about the school or inform them of the name of the actor they were forgetting.  In these cases, my sister (then in junior high or early high school) would turn bright red and tug on my sleeve.  She would tell me not to interrupt, or look straight ahead as if I didn’t exist while I made this small talk.

Similar things would happen if we were out and ran into a family friend or teacher.  I would make polite conversation while my sister would shift uncomfortably from foot to foot until we would walk away.  I was never sure why these conversations embarrassed her, but as she got older she improved in her own ability to make conversation with strangers or older people.  By now, she’s an expert when she wants to be, but it’s not something she often wants to be.  Embarrassment or fear thereof still thwarts these conversations unless they are necessary.

However, for as many times I embarrassed my middle sister my youngest sister made up for her.  Since there was a such an age gap between my youngest sister and I (and I looked so much older), my youngest sister would take great pleasure in embarrassing me by pretending I was her mom when we were out together alone.  The little dear would walk away from me in a crowded department store and then turn back to yell “MOM!”  This of course would gather stares and indignant looks from everyone in shouting distance.  Ah, fun times….

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My sister has a friend who is me. I know that sounds odd, but she is. She is the younger, shorter version of me. Same goals, same dreams, same faults, same virtues, same propensity for getting our heart crushed. And I can see all the steps laid out before her. I know how she feels about the people in her life, both past and present, because I felt that once. I know mistakes she wants to make, because she can’t help but make them, just as I did. I want to help her, stop her, save her, but should I? or better yet, can I?

I was talking to her last night and my sister looked over and said, you guys are the same person. We were discussing her becoming friends with her ex-boyfriend and I scoffed at her “we’re just friends” speech she was giving me. I scoffed because, as my sister said, I knew how she was feeling, because I had felt that way. I knew what she wanted to do and what she was going to do, because I had done it.

It’s strange to find such a strong kinship with a young woman I am unrelated to, since I have two sisters. I share many things in common with my sisters, but in matters of the heart, they have always been very different from me. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m the oldest, as is Kristina, and we must blaze our own trail. We have no one to shine a light on the direction we should go or the trials we’ll have to face if we chose one path or another. We also are full of the ideals of youth far beyond youth, because we are the first born and no one has taught us that these ideals cannot be. I still hold on to mine, in some ways, though not as fervently and with much greater cynicism than I once did. But these ideals still sleep in my chest, ready to awaken at any time. Kristina’s are still awake all the time and constantly moving.

Because I know her and I know me, I want to protect her from the trials ahead. I want to be the big sister to her as I was to my sisters. I want to show her the cliffs before she goes over them and just where the hidden bridges are to higher, safer places. I want to shelter her from the pain that I suffered. But if I do that I know I will be doing her a great disservice. If she is me, she’ll find a way to experience the pain one way or another, or rather the pain will find her. She has to learn on her own how to navigate the rocky edges of the world, or one day she might fall and be unprepared to climb her way back up.

I suppose in the end, I just wish her luck and pray that maybe she isn’t me after all. Maybe her path is different. And hopefully her path is better.

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