I love learning how Milagro's mind works. Sometimes it gives me insights into her personality. Other times it reminds me how children think and process. Once in a while she demonstrates such incredible wisdom that I am convinced she can't be only 3. Then there are times when she works attachment miracles better than any therapeutic parenting strategy I could use. Lately she has done all of these things and more.
When C. went on a business trip this week, Milagro announced that she was going to sleep with me so I wouldn't "miss Mama." That day she was especially clingy and lovey. In the middle of playing outside with Pollito she would come in and say "mom can you hold me?" then off to play she went. More than usual, she told me she loved me and that she was my "baby." She is so good about asking for what she needs. Sometimes at night when she has a bad dream she comes in from her room and asks to be held and then falls asleep at my feet. Since she had announced she was sleeping with me she also said she wasn't sleeping at the foot of the bed because I needed her to be next to me.
We have a neighborhood friend who has an 11 year old and a now 3 year old. The little boy comes over to play with Milagro and Pollito several times a week. Milagro is convinced that he is still a "baby" even though he is less than 3 months younger than she is. She negotiates playing with him by locating all of her concerns and his issues with his being a baby. If she doesn't want to share something with him she will bring it to me to keep for her and say "I don't want him to break this. He's just a baby." Other times she will tell me he poked her, snatched something from her, or broke her toy but "it's OK because he's a baby." It helps her to navigate the challenges of a playmate she doesn't quite feel she wants to stand up to because he is younger. And certainly he seems younger at times. She would never NOT stand up to her siblings and in fact holds her own just fine. Yet she understands the rules are just a little bit different when she is playing with someone who is our guest.
The other day I was teasing her about something and I joked that she could take the car keys and drive herself to the park. She said "MOM! I can't drive. I would drive crazy!" Then she added "but I wouldn't drive to the park. I would drive to P's house." P. is our dear friend from Boston and "auntie" to the kids. So I asked her what she would do when she got there. She responded "give her a BIG hug!"
This past weekend, Milagro came downstairs and was especially clingy. She announced that she wanted to be a baby again. She has done this numerous times over the past year as she negotiates growing up and wanting to be a "big kid" and still be a "baby." I expected some of the same and was shocked when she said "So Corazon will be nice to me again." She went on to tell me that she thinks Corazon is only nice to her when she is a baby and very explicitly gave me examples of Corazon using mean words, mean tone of voice, and just plain annoyance with her. In her mind she knew that if she was a baby Corazon would not treat her meanly or be annoyed by her. She also said that Corazon "hated" her and didn't love her anymore. It was true that lately Corazon had been shorter with Milagro and even mean, especially in her tone of voice. Milagro had surmised that it was only when she (Milagro) needed help (getting a cup of water, a snack from the top shelf of the pantry, someone to turn the light on in the bathroom) that Corazon was nice. Milagro saw those things as being "like a baby." It made me sad that Milagro was aware of it and I decided to share it with Corazon.
Later that day, I mentioned my conversation with Milagro to Corazon. I wasn't upset or angry with her. I spoke in a matter of fact tone and reminded her that she had a window of opportunity in which she could control what kind of relationship Milagro had with her. Milagro ADORES Corazon and will do anything for her. Corazon recognizes this. As I recounted the conversation with Milagro I could see Corazon's eyes well up with tears. I asked why she was crying and she said she didn't understand how Milagro could be so "perceptive" but more importantly she was sad because she really loves Milagro and it hurt her to know that Milagro thought she hated her. She wanted to know what she could do to explain to Milagro that she loved her and didn't hate her. We then talked about words and actions. Since then I have witnessed Corazon work extra hard in her interactions with Milagro. She has even been explicit about telling her she likes her and loves her. I asked Corazon about this and she said that she thought once Milagro believed "for real" that she didn't like her then "she won't trust me." Big lesson learned.