The girls have been in bed since 8:00 PM. At 8:30, they were still talking, so I stuck my head in & did that loud whisper, “You’re supposed to be sleeping!” Around 8:45, Zara came into my office & said, “Mama, I’m having some feelings about friends.”
I’ll be honest: My first thought was, Right now?! During my Me Time?!
But I pulled her up a chair & said, “Okay, tell me what’s going on.” And then she told me about three frustrating incidents she’s had at school & at playdates. There were many overlapping topics, including: 1) classmates who quit playing a game because someone was a vampire, 2) wanting to be the doggie but being told no, 3) her suspicions that two friends were lying, & 4) her mechanical stuffed puppy being monopolized by someone. It was a lot for me to follow when my brain had already been switched over to Adult Time.
But it was incredible to listen to her verbalize not only what happened but how she felt about things. And I think I’m getting better at this parenting thing, because I just looked into her eyes & listened. For a long time. At least it felt like a really long time, because, you see, I have this “fix it” trigger that usually compulsively needs to be pulled. I start thinking in solutions & actions, & I start suggesting & advising. Well, I didn’t tonight. Maybe because I’m tired? No matter, because not trying to fix it actually helped me to give her enough space to talk. And my fatigue probably worked in my favor, because I’ve been working on this not-fixing-it for awhile now.
When it seemed like she had gotten most of her thoughts out, I said, “I’m really glad you came to tell me all this.” She visibly relaxed & took a breath, & then she shared some more.
One of the incidents was during a playdate from a long time ago. But I realized that she was still processing it, & maybe it was because it was related to similar stuff going on at school. I learned something about her & the pace or timing with which she is going over experiences in her mind & heart. Sometimes, feelings will come up weeks later. Okay, got it. Note taken.
I told her that we would figure something out, perhaps with the help of her teacher, & I repeated that I was glad she had come talk to me. At the end of the convo, no problems had been solved, but she jumped up & hugged me & said, “I love you, Mama.” Then she sort of twinkle-toed up the stairs with a lightness in her step & went off to bed.
I’m thinking in the years to come, the frustrations she has will be different. They’ll still probably involve friends & school collaborations, but they won’t be about sharing a stuffed animal or whose turn it is to be the doggie during pretend play. They’ll eventually be about crazy teenage sh*t I don’t even want to think about right now, but I do really hope that she’ll come to me saying, “I’m having some feelings about friends.” And I do really hope that I’ll be able to put down what I’m doing to just listen, because I am so, so glad she still comes to talk to me.