Monday, May 6, 2013

a lila update

So, I know the big news around here is our sweet Faith baby's adoption, but I don't want to forget about my big kid.  Lila has been having a bit of a rough go with the transition, but she's making it.  She L-O-V-E-S her little sister (she calls her "little big sis" because...well I don't know why.  I think because I make Faith "talk" to Lila and say, "Hi, Big Sis!" so she figures Faith is the little big sis.  I'm not going to argue the point because 1. we already argue about enough these days and 2. it's cute.) and wants to help feed her, hold her, bring her toys, pick out her clothes, rearrange her room, etc.  She scolds me if I don't respond to Faith's cries quickly enough - "Mommy, go get her! She's crying!" - and she is quick to remind me of what I need to do or what she thinks Faith needs/wants.

She also can't keep her hands off of Faith which has been a problem this week because Lila caught a cold and had a fever so I wouldn't let her touch Faith.  I am terrified of Faith getting a cold because babies with Down's syndrome often have very small nasal passages so breathing can be easily impeded.  Even without a cold, Faith sounds like a little Chinese rhinoceros.  We call her "Snorty" because she snorts a lot and we are very creative with our nicknames over here.  I know that a cold is inevitable, but I'd rather wait a bit.  Like for about 17 years.  Is that too much to ask?

Oh yeah, I forgot I was talking about Lila.  Now you can probably see why she's having a hard time.  That baby is just so darn distracting!  

It's a big adjustment for a little girl to go from Only to Oldest.  She is veeeeerrrry emotional most days and I have never seen so much of her bottom lip.  Our biggest problems are her propensity toward arguing and her recklessness.  I finally got to the point a few weeks ago where I realized that I had been trying to talk her into obedience.  "You really want to obey Mommy and here's why..."  I had this epiphany when I was asking her to put her shoes on and she was essentially like, "What'll you give me for it?"  She didn't say those exact words, but that was the general direction of our conversation.  I sat her down and said, "You know what, Lila?  In our house it's not a choice to obey Mommy and Daddy.  We just obey, and if you don't you'll have a consequence."  

I think saying those words out loud gave me the permission to put the boundaries back in place that had been squeezed out by mostly good intentions and a little bit of guilt.  I had been giving her a lot of extra grace because I know this transition is hard for her and we are all on a learning curve of how to be a family of four.  But I had gotten to the point where grace was looking a little too much like Lila calling all the shots and me getting frustrated.  And the thing is, kids NEED boundaries. They want boundaries.  They feel safer with boundaries.  I know this, but I just didn't realize that "extra grace" had turned into a free-for-all of Lila does whatever the heck she wants and we just forgive it or get mad.  
Blowing bubbles on the front porch.  We've been trying to give her little bits of responsibility and independence.  She usually isn't allowed outside by herself, but the Husband told her that she could blow bubbles on the porch as long as she stayed on the porch.  He was, of course, lurking behind her watching out the window the whole time!
Boundaries.  Boundaries are good for everyone.  And I think my girl was sort of panicking because here we had turned her life upside down by bringing this stranger (a really CUTE stranger) into our house and calling her sister and suddenly my attention was divided in half and my affection was shared and we have to be quiet when the baby is sleeping and she can't do somersaults on the couch anymore when I am feeding Faith because then Faith gets a heel to the head (I'm not saying that happened...) and oh the humanity!  Her life is ruined!  But she's also confused because she really loves that baby and tells me on a daily basis, "Mommy, I LOVE having a baby sister!" or "I'm so glad Faith is my baby sister!"  

And then on top of all of that, Mommy seems to have changed the rules on her and some rules that we used to have seem like they don't apply anymore and now we have new rules that seem completely unjust because that BABY needs it quiet to sleep (high maintenance) and she can't sing her Rapunzel songs at the top of her lungs anymore.  

It must be confusing for a little girl's brain so I'm trying to re-teach her what being a part of our family and living in our house looks like.  I'm trying to show her that her life is still safe even though it's different, and that Mommy still loves her even though I lose my temper easily because I'm stressed about adding a million appointments to our schedule and going back to school and trying to get that little asian stinker to eat more than two ounces at a time!  (Seriously, she downs two ounces and then just gurgles and smiles at me and spits out the rest.  It's cute and infuriating all at the same time!)

Also, I'm 95% sure Lila needs glasses.  I got glasses in first grade and my parents think I probably needed them younger than that.  I made an appointment for her at the eye doctor in a few weeks so we will see what they say.  There's a part of me - the very irrational and stressed out part - that thinks/hopes/prays/believes that getting Lila glasses will magically fix all of her behavior problems.  The other part of me - the rational and realistic part - thinks that it might fix some of her behavior problems.  As a legally blind person myself, I know how disorienting it can be when you can't see the world around you.  I imagine part of her recklessness has to do with the fact that the things more than three feet from her face are all a blur.  I also imagine that it's probably tempting to revert into an imaginary world when the real world isn't in focus and it's hard to get her out of that imaginary world sometimes especially when the real world has a Mommy saying, "Lila!  Stop singing so loudly!"  I'm kind of dreading having to cover up those sweet big brown eyes with glasses, but I'm also looking forward to how cute she's going to look.
She picked out these hipster glasses when she was at Half Price Books with Daddy.

So, if you think about it, pray for our Lila-girl.  She is still the sweetest, funniest, most creative kid I know and I just want to be able to look at her through eyes that see the good in her and not the frustrating parts of her (like asking me one million questions in the car.  Seriously, Child.  Give Mama a BREAK.)  Pray for me, too - that I can find ways to be patient and creative in the midst of a crazy season of life.  I don't want to look back and realize I "just survived" this once-in-a-lifetime bit of Lila's life.
This was on Easter this year.  My cousin Suzy was so sweet to help Lila hold the rabbit.  Lila was enamored with Suzy's red hair.  She whispered to me, "Mommy!  She looks like Ariel!"
One last little story about my Lila.  This story will only make sense to those of you who have seen the movie Tangled.  There's a part in the movie where Rapunzel is singing about being locked up in her tower her whole life and "wondrin'" when her life will begin.
Here's the clip (pay attention to 2:15):

Lila knows this song by heart and sings it constantly.  She loves pretending like my scarves are her hair and she acts out the song, flinging her "hair" around like Rapunzel does.  A few weeks ago, she was doing this as usual and then she said, "Mommy!  Do you like my wondrin'?"  I looked up to see this:

I love that she thinks a "wondrin'" is a circular something.  I love the way her mind works.  She's the best.


Dana Butler said...

I loved reading this. And I will pray for your sweet girl. Well, both sweet girls. :)

I miss you.

And are you really legally blind?!

brit said...

"I don't want to look back and realize I "just survived" this once-in-a-lifetime bit of Lila's life."

woah. that hit me like a ton of bricks. how often do I just go into "survival mode" instead of praying and seeking God's patience and grace? I love your honesty on the hardships of raising a 3 year old. praying for your sweet family!

Rachel J said...