Tuesday, October 4, 2011

pull, not push

We played outside this afternoon and sooner or later everyone split up.  Our neighbor has a swing set in their backyard on which my children are allowed to play "any time".

Wolfie wanted to play badminton with me, and Luna and Tulip were climbing and sliding and it was so great to see Tulip being such a big sister because I didn't have that as a child.

I even heard her say to Luna, "Mama's not here so I am in charge of you."  Okay.  I guess that's how it goes.

But she started crying and I thought she got kicked in the face or something so I went to see what was the matter.  She was frustrated.  Really really frustrated.  She wanted Luna to sit on her lap and go down the slide together but Luna wouldn't do it.  I told her that she couldn't make Luna do something she didn't want to do and, I'm telling you, Tulip kind of stomped her feet and kind of howled that cry she sometimes does when she wakes up in the middle of the night and is inconsolable and it doesn't make any sense to us because we have no idea what could be so upsetting to her but she is just in it.  That low guttural cry that sort of sounds like "oh" or "no". 

We repeated this dialogue a few more times and that foot stomping caught me so off guard because, I'm telling you again, that is just not like Tulip.  I was about to discipline her - something along the lines of saying, "I don't like the way you are behaving.  Maybe you should sit on your bed until you are in a better mood..." but I decided to embrace the moment instead. 

My friend Mindy, who is one of the most intuitive mothers I know, once said, "Whenever I have the urge to push my child away, I realize that what she needs most is an embrace."

Oh, poor poor Tulip.  I just don't know what it's like to be a middle child.  Is this what it's like?  Given the opportunity to be the big sister instead of the younger sister, to be "in charge" of the baby that it becomes such a drive to create a scene where the baby does exactly what you say and you get to direct all the play?  And when it doesn't go your way?  Frustration.  Disappointment.  Isn't Wolfie usually in charge, just because he's bigger, older, and can initiate the games and assign the roles faster and Tulip is just so agreeable and delighted to play that she goes along with everything.  And here was her "in charge" moment and that Luna was just not cooperating.

I'll hold you Tulip.  You bet.  Even if you are stompy because I just don't know what else you need, sweetheart.


  1. Oh, I found this very same thing out with Gray. And oh my goodness what it does for MY heart in that moment. I can only imagine what it does for them.


  2. This really resonated with me, June. I could say the same about Julia, I just don't know what it is like to be the middle child, but there must be a level of frustration. I'll keep in mind what you/Mindy said. Thanks

  3. This made my heart jump! This is EXACTLY how Brody gets when things don't go his way. And please thank your friend Mindy for opening my eyes to a new perspective.