Why am I so frightened to let my children feel fear and pain, disappointment and unfulfilled desire? I know that, in many circumstances, it is my job to let them experience these things so that they can grow spiritually and emotionally and learn to trust themselves, but in the heat of the moment my first instinct is to rush to them and soothe the hurt and get them exactly what they want.
Today Eve had a friend over to play. My daughters are such good friends and wonderful playmates, but Eve is becoming more independent and desires privacy and some opportunities to do things without her tag-along little sister. I understand that and want to protect that for her. I had to struggle mightily to remember that when Lola came to me sobbing, incredibly sad that the older girls didn't want to include her in their game. She was truly confused that they didn't want to play with her and took it to mean that they didn't like her. "I want to tell them that if they let me play I'll be the nicest person in the world to them," she spluttered, and my heart ripped a little.
Last week when her Eve was fighting to overcome her terror at having a dental procedure done, Lola (brave warrior that she is), climbed into the chair and invited the assistant to explore her mouth first. She was more than happy to have her teeth probed in order to assuage her older sister's fears. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way, but later that day, Eve reached out and took Lola's hand and thanked her softly for trying to help. I nearly burst into tears. They have such a fantastic bond, these two lovely girls.
I tried to help this devastated little girl understand that sometimes it's important to focus on one person at a time. She was not being mean or inappropriate in any way. I spent a few desperate minutes trying to come up with fun things for the two of us to do, but she refused them all, just as desperate to convince the older girls to invite her into their game. I wanted so badly to fix her pain, but I had to respect Eve's boundaries, too. I had to let Lola hurt and hopefully learn that I will protect her interests when she, too, sets boundaries. I don't think she's buying it yet, but if I can keep my "eye on the prize", maybe someday she'll thank me.