Eve has decided that since she's growing up and getting busier, we ought to have a ritual that belongs just to the two of us.
She has chosen walking the dog on Sundays as that ritual. The grown-up girl in her sees it as a way to talk honestly about things in our lives without pesky little sister hanging around. The little girl in her sees it as a chance to get a special treat: "Be sure to bring your purse, though, so when we're done walking we can sit at Starbucks and have a hot chocolate together."
She has promised that, rain or shine, wind, snow or blazing heat, she will want to walk the dog with me. So far, we've had three glorious Sunday walks. So far, I think we've just barely scratched the surface of the things she's going to teach me.
One Sunday our talk turned to "the trouble with Lola." Lola, as you might recall from several previous blog posts, lost her mind for a while this summer and became an aggressive, snotty, backtalking meanie. Without ganging up on her, Eve and I began discussing why it is that she gets to me so much when she starts spouting off.
"Mom? Not to be mean or anything, but I need to tell you something."
Hmmm, not exactly the way I would have ever opened up a conversation with an adult in my life when I was 9, but, okay...
"You are always telling me that I can't control anyone else's behavior, that I can only change my response to it. You also always say that when I react in an angry or snotty way to her and get sucked in to the fight, she wins." We are walking side-by-side on a remote, wooded trail. There is nobody but us and the dog within hearing or sight distance. My eyes slid toward her now and then as she spoke, but Eve's eyes stayed firmly on the ground about three feet in front of her.
She took a deep breath, probably relieved that I hadn't stopped her yet. No way! I had to see where this was going.
"You're letting her win. She just wants attention. Does it really matter why she's being so mean? I don't like it when you two start fighting and I don't like it when she gets you so upset. Maybe you could just go to her and give her a big hug and tell her you love her when she's pissy. Sometimes I say 'thank you' when she says something evil to me and she stops 'cuz it's not what she expects."
Her voice is getting quieter and the rhythm of her words slower. I think she's getting talked out.
I slid my arm around her shoulders and gave her a squeeze. She was absolutely right. And she's been listening to me. Something tells me we can move mountains with these walks.