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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sister Love

I posted this photo on Facebook recently with the caption "Sister is another word for love."  My girls really do love each other, most of the time.  The rest of the time they fight like crazy.  I wouldn't believe two girls could cause each other so much angst over a cup full of colored pencils but I'm often amazed at what they'll choose to fight about.  Tonight when I actually managed to get them to share those colored pencils, reminding them that they could only color with one pencil at a time, I really felt like some kind of middle east peace negotiator.  They happily sat at the dining table and colored for all of five minutes before they moved on to the next fun activity; pretending they were pirates on the back porch.

Oh what a wonderful time in their life this is.  Eliza has one more day of school and then I will no longer have a first grader.  Elena is registered to start pre-K in the Fall but I'm not optimistic about her academic life.  She clings to me like crazy whenever we're within 50 feet of the school, grabbing onto my leg and saying "school next year!  Next year!" with the kind of terror reserved for lakeside camp horror movies.  She is also developmentally behind other kids her age and I'm afraid that school might be the beginning of a new chapter in my life--that of the mother of a kid who is a little "special."

She has yet to potty train, preferring the ease of diapers or just peeing on the floor to the stress of controlling her bodily functions.  At first, I thought she lacked the belief that she could do it but after countless readings of "Little Quack" in the bathroom, I've come to think differently.  In "Little Quack," five scared little ducklings cling close to the nest while the mother duck encourages them to paddle on the water with Mama, saying "You can do it, I know you can."  Eventually, the ducklings all hit the water, overcoming their fear.  I really thought showing Elena how these ducklings conquered their fear, she'd realize she could use the potty.  However, when I try to get her to use the potty when she's deep in play, her quoting the scared ducklings of "Little Quack" sounds less like fear and more like an excuse not to be bothered to learn this.

But it's not just the potty training, her speech and ability to communicate is not that great.  She also doesn't have the greatest motor skills and can't really do more on paper than scribble.  I tried to get her to sing the ABC song today but she wouldn't because I'm sure she doesn't actually know it.  Sometimes I feel guilty--if I spent more time coloring and drawing with her the way I did with Eliza, she'd be more advanced but the truth is, when I try to color with it, which isn't often, she's no interest whatsoever.  She'd much rather retreat to her own little world with her little Lalaloopsy dolls and reenact the Lalaloopsy movie she insists on watching day in and day out.  She also freaks out if her sandwich breaks in half or one side of the bread is bigger than the other side.

So while I'm not expecting school to be a big hit for Elena, I'm now worried that it will serve as that turning point, that moment when I'm told my little one is not like other little ones.

But while I face this fall with trepidation for so many reasons (I will be back at work!  I won't get to see my kids at all!) I still say this is a wonderful time.  Watching these two little girls interact and connect and disconnect and fight is just about the best thing in the world.  When I don't want to lock myself in a room and cry because I can't deal with the fighting anymore.  I get the great privilege of seeing their relationship unfold.

Elena is not the most affectionate child but at least once a day she'll come up to me and kiss me or put her little arms around my neck in a hug.  Just like you see in the picture above, those tiny little arms will find their way around my neck and lock together.  And that moment, that feeling of those arms around me, it's just so indescribably great nothing I can write here can possibly describe it.  I am just so completely dumbfounded that tiny little arms like that could have so much power.

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