You Just Broke the Butterfly!
I'm trying really hard to be a better mom.
Well, I am. Of course, that might not mean much. We can only work with what we're given, and no one has actually informed me on how to do this whole, mom thing.
Although if I had paid attention to something that EVERYBODY says, I might not have permentently damaged my daughter's psyche this morning.
"Every kid is different." parents of more than one kid say. I've heard it, you've heard it... we all agree. It's a valid and real statement. So, why do I insist on giving one child the kind of treatment the other one needs, and not what she needs? I don't know, I'm pretty stupid.
First off, Tyler, who I'm watching closely for signs of autism, needs to be shown, plainly and clearly, how his actions affect the world around him. He's usually lost in his little world, and needs to be stopped and shown what he's done, in order to process and understand it.
Kendyl, is different. She is sensitive to the moods of those around her, and is utterly fascinated by her effects on the Universe. She's observant, and often notices things before everyone else does.
Yesterday, when I was coming back from Michael's with tutu making supplies, I found a butterfly, dead on the sidewalk. It was in perfect condition, like it had frozen in mid flight. Although, I don't make a habit of bringing home dead bugs for my family, I made an exception, and slipped it into my purse carefully.
Well, this morning, after reading books about The Creation, (which are really heavy on the butterflies, if their geared toward the preschool demographic. Like before
I opened my purse and gingerly brought out the butterfly, still intact and beautiful. I cradled it in my hands and knelt on the floor in front of my toddlers.
"Look, it's a beautiful butterfly." I exclaimed, in awe.
Tyler went for the grab and I ran interference. I stopped his hand short and touched lightly on the wing with his fingertips. "Soft, honey." I said in a soothing voice, "We have to be soft when we touch the butterfly."
Suddenly, with lightning quick hands, Kendyl shoots in between us and full-fist grabs the butterfly. She seems to have known instantly that her bolt toward butterfly-owning glory was ill-fated, because she opened her fist immediately and the pieces tumbled out into my hand.
"Kendyl!" I gasped in dismay, forgetting which of my children I was talking to, "You broke it. You just broke the butterfly." My 18 month old's face fell. (If such a thing is possible, it happened right here.) This wasn't the one that I needed to tell these things to, she knew already what had happened. She's already sensitive to her Godzilla-like qualities, and I had really driven it home.
There was this totally interesting, beautiful thing, that she had so briefly loved... and it was so painfully obvious that her actions had destroyed it.
She didn't break down and have a tantrum, she didn't scream, her face didn't turn red. It would have been better, I think, if she had. Instead, she got her blankie, went to a cubby area below where the baby shoes go, and stuck her fingers in her mouth and her blankie up to her face, and sat there dejectedly.
THE MOST depressing thing I had ever seen. A butterfly destroyed, and she KNEW she had done it, and I had to make a deal about it by pointing it out.
I hadn't yelled (who would yell over breaking a bug?) But I didn't have to. I also didn't have to go there.
This wasn't Tyler, who could break something and either not even notice, or hide the evidence (not to avoid getting caught, but because if you don't see it, the thing never happened)
This was Kendyl, who feels bad when her uncontrolled movement, and regular spastic toddler actions break things or knock things over. I've seen her "play Godzilla" on toys on the floor, because that's how she's come to see herself.
People who don't have kids, or who don't have the opportunity to be stuck to their kids all day long, might say, "Well, that's attributing a lot to someone who's only 18 months old."
To which I reply, "When someone is stuck to your leg their every waking moment, you get to know them pretty well." And I know this little girl.
So, if I know this child so well, why did I feel the need to point something out that was only going to make her feel worse about something she already felt bad about?
If it were Tyler, I would have to call his attention to the broken bug, show him the pieces, maybe showing how a rough touch can break things by crushing some more of the already busted wings. And then, if I was lucky, he'd finally get it. Being rough with fragile things can break them, I liked this butterfly, but because I wasn't careful, it's broken now. Lesson given, time to move on.
But this wasn't Tyler I was talking to, it was his sensitive, observant, emotional sister. And for a moment I forgot that.
I'm sorry, Lil Bit. Next time, I hope I'll remember.
I guess it's never too early to start working on material to share with your therapist when you get older.
This time, you can blame it on your mom.