We put the girls down for a nap yesterday afternoon and let them stay up late. (Oooooh). The movie options were between Pollyanna for the third time this week (I was the one who wanted to watch it again, and again … and again), or Under the Tuscan Sun (again, Mommy’s choice), or Bolt. The family thought that since I hadn’t seen Bolt yet, and they’d seen it twice, we should watch Bolt. So we did.
It’s a cute movie. Rhino the Hamster reminds me an awful lot of a boy in my 8th grade class…only Rhino is much happier. But the resemblance is still there.
So we get towards the end of the movie where Bolt (the dog) thinks that Penny (his person) doesn’t love him anymore.
And I hear a sniffle from Couch Left.
“Lia, are you crying?”
“No, it’s my throat.”
I almost choked from a half laugh, half cry. Is our little girl really old enough to cry at movies and then pretend that she’s not?
So eventually she gets up and gets some tissue for her tears. But she doesn’t want to be cuddled. She doesn’t want to talk about it. I did convince her to snuggle on my lap for a few minutes, but she really preferred sitting in her corner of the couch and dabbing at her tears in solitude.
So the movie ends and bedtime arrives and we chat a little about the movie over the potty detour. She had thought Penny was in the hospital, so we straightened out that plot misunderstanding.
And she crawls in bed and sniffs herself to sleep.
She did not want to be snuggled. She did not want to talk about it. But she did not want me to leave the room, either.
I told her, as we lay in bed not snuggling, that I’m so glad she is tenderhearted, that feeling things deeply is a gift.
Laying squashed between Lia and Amelie, I thought about what this means.
This means that Lia is developing empathy — her little heart is tender to stories of other people’s (or other dogs, as it may be) feelings.
This means that she needs space to deal with these feelings. But not too much space. Just enough space to be her own person, just enough space to feel secure.
These are important things to know. Important for me to remember so that I don’t either smother her or abandon her in times of need. I’m slowly learning to take these little moments and use them to learn about who my children are – to watch and see how they respond to things and how they make their choices.
On another, more personal level, this also means that here is one more place Lia goes that I cannot follow. I thought about the future ahead and all the pain she will feel in her life that I won’t be able to make better or to even share. And I thought briefly, instinctively, about asking God to protect her from pain. But on further reflection I decided to release God somewhat from the ill-fitting guise of Protector and trust God to do what God does best…transform pain into beauty and riches and strength and life abundant.
This morning as she and Devo talked about the previous evening’s tears over breakfast, she told him about that thing Mommy said she was…um, what was it again? Tenderhearted, I tell her. Yes, tenderhearted.