Thursday, August 09, 2007

Her Mother's Daughter

“I need to feel better!”

The plaintive wail rises up amid a flood of tears. I have denied her cookies before breakfast. She has scraped her knee on some loose gravel. It is time to turn the TV off.

Daily tragedies, all worthy of a few wails of acknowledgement. But lately it is not enough to mourn the passing of those heady cookie-eating, Dora-watching, free-running dreams that real life so often falls short of. Pie has become much more solution-oriented than that. She needs to feel better.

I can trace the genealogy of this urge to my father. Where my mother is prone to guilt and anxiety, my sister and I are consummate appliers of emotional Band-Aids. We specialize in the administration of medicinal brownies-and-ice-cream. We know exactly the right blend of grieving time and escapism, retreating to our bedrooms for a good cry and then emerging to pop in a video of Austin Powers. Crying, laughter, chocolate. Alone time, good friends. These are the things that make us feel better.

This is a skill we’ve inherited from our father, whose solution to all difficulties is golf. For him, neither the emotions nor the remedy are complex, but I think anyone will acknowledge that he applies his medicine regularly.

Pie is expanding her repertoire of home remedies. The words “feel better” at one time referred exclusively to diaper rash ointment, but the principle is capable of broader application. A book, a bowl of yogourt, a CD of sing-along songs – these things can ease her emotional pain. Stuck in the back seat of the car, she needs my hand in order to feel better, tugging the fingers this way and that and announcing delightedly, “You give me back my hand!”

When the effects of the treatment have taken hold, she never fails to issue her report. “I’m happy,” she sighs contentedly, knowing that happiness never feels better than when it is snatched from the jaws of despair.

37 comments:

DaniGirl said...

Oh, that curly hair - what a beauty!

We're in a phase with Simon right now that has him melting down at least once a day, usually over something relatively trivial, and he's become proficient at suggesting tearily what might make him feel better. I just hope it's always as simple as a glass of lemonade or a popsicle or kisses up and down his arm to sooth his tears.

Mad Hatter said...

Oh I just want to guzzle those little cheeks!

You know, this post goes a long way to addressing my own personal malaise this week. Thank you.

Now to get to the topic of our kids, for Miss M the solution is always as follows: apply 1) Jump into mommy's arms and demand a cuddle (a surrogate will do if mommy is not around). 2) get Ellas and elephant ASAP; in cases of grave injury, Kitty and baby kitty are also required. 3. Have mommy kiss it better--sometimes she needs to kiss it better repeatedly 4. Demand a glass of milk. 5. If the wheels have fallen off the bus entirely, watch a Max and Ruby dvd.

Mouse said...

Scooter does the hand-in-the-car thing too, even claiming it as "my hand." He also likes to tell us, "Maybe x make me feel better." I'm hoping he sticks with kisses and hugs and the occasional cookie for a while yet.

kgirl said...

Ohmygoodness - those curls! That smile! I'd feel better just looking at that face.

Bee is also very into 'feel better.' The catch is that I'm often not sure if she needs to, or she already does. Either way, a hug usually does the trick.

Julie Pippert said...

How cute that sweetie pie is!!!

Oh wow, you just queued up my latest angst: applying physical things for comfort. We were loved with things and food, and it left a mark---not always a good one.

I love hearing your stories that take these things, these emotional bandaids, and show them in perspective, show the okay side, remind me that it's not always dysfunction.

I hope that makes sense. :) In short, great post, very timely and helpful, so thank you.

Julie
Ravin' Picture Maven

thirtysomething said...

What a wonderful, precious picture of an adorably sweet little girl.
These little woes of toddler-hood, the tiny things that can make it all better and make it all fall apart--depending on the moment.
My youngest son, upon leaving him at the daycare each morning when he was younger would say, while holding my face in his chubby hands, "but mommy, I might need you today if I need to feel better"

Momish said...

Ok, I could just eat her up alive! That picture too much!

But, I know what you mean about how their expanding vocabularies and emotional expressions. My daughter is going through the same phase.

My favorite is how she "misses" everyone even before they have walked out the door. The person is still there gathering their belongings and she is moping around the house about how much she misses them already!

Christina said...

She has gorgeous curls like Cordy!

For us, the magic kiss to make something better seems to be working for physical injuries, and the hug for emotional injuries. I'm sure she'll eventually learn to turn to ice cream and chocolate for soothing, like her mother. :)

flutter said...

Sorry, I had this big brilliant comment and then I saw her and i was struck dumb.

Magpie said...

I'm happy because of that adorable photo.

Mimi said...

Fantastic. Good for the Pie for naming her feelings and working to make them better.

It's fascinating to watch kids learn to do this--self-soothe? Munchkin currently likes to lay out her doudou on some soft surface and then lie down on it, absentimindedly patting, until she calms down or gears back up.

Also, the Pie is GORGEOUS!!

bubandpie said...

I'm fascinated by how many of you view these habits negatively. That's one of my major emotion-management strategies - I don't feel guilty about anything unless I absolutely have to.

(And after I hit "publish" this morning I recalled a suitable Harry Potter analogy that I'm kicking myself for leaving out. How fabulous that the magical remedy for Dementor attacks is a nice bar of high-quality chocolate. Some things cannot be improved upon.)

slouching mom said...

She is delicious with those ringlets.

For me it's always been ice cream. I own it. I figure it's better than a lot of coping strategies to which I might resort.

Well, not so good for my figure...or cholesterol. But still, better than some alternatives.

Jenn said...

Cookies.

Band-aids to the soul.

Beck said...

What a little cutie.
While I am writing this, The Baby is throwing a marathon tantrum in the kitchen. All my maternal wiles failed to comfort her, so now I'm just hoping that she cheers up on her own time - and then we'll have some cuddles and possibly a snack. Poor Baby.

nomotherearth said...

I, too, love the curls.

A snack usually makes the Boy feel better too. Except now, when he's sick and won't eat anything. Sadly, I have no reserve "feel better" options. The hug works sometimes, and so does the kiss, but the snack is a sure bet.

Swistle said...

The pediatrician once told me that it was important for children to develop a repertoire of "self-soothing" techniques. I think it's good for grown-ups, too!

Lawyer Mama said...

And, of course, my first comment is about the curls! The Pie is so adorable I could just eat her up. She is, after all, the Pie.

I'm an applier of emotional band-aids as well. There's nothing that can't be fixed with a kiss from Mommy or Daddy, a small snuggle, and goldfish crackers. (At least at this age!)

AnneK said...

She is a qtpi to the boot!

Lady M said...

She's a beauty.

I also apply treats to feel better. Sometimes I feel guilty, but often it I am pleased that it's so easy to fix a 'problem.' Chocolate for a cheer-up is pretty minor, after all.

Janet said...

I'm really just relieved that I can solve most problems right now with cookies and cuddles. I know that, one day, when my children are older, there are going to be some hurts that I haven't the tools to heal. I guess that's where the self-soothing strategies will kick in.

Until then, thank goodness for the folks at Breyers!

BTW, Pie? Completely appropriate nickname. I would give my summer's share of ice cream for those curls.

Kyla said...

Oh my God. She is to die for! Just gorgeous. And the curls? Oh, melt my heart.

I love that she is already learning to cope with stress. And important life skill for sure...and adorable to boot.

PeanutButtersMum said...

She's a doll! Gorgeous curls!

I love this post! My little PB is always looking for self-healing tricks and the tricks often resemble some of those you listed. My fave is when he says, frowning slightly and looking forlorn, "Mommy, I think I might feel better if I have a chocolate bar..."

Kids!

Bon said...

she is so freakin' dear, i could eat her.

and i think it's fabulous that she's learning a repetoire of skills to deal with disappointment and malaise...these will serve her well in life, methinks.

:)

b*babbler said...

What a cutie pie. The curls are killing me...

Oh, I can't wait until the Peanut is old enough to say what makes her feel better. Right now we are at the cuddles stage (to be more specific, the hanging on and chewing mummies shoulder stage.) And there are those moments with the big crocodile tears streaking down both her cheeks, when you get the look that says "why can't you fix it mommy?" and you have absolutely *no* idea what is wrong. Sigh...

Jenifer said...

SO so cute.

I love watching them grow and learn every day. Mine never cease to amaze me :)

painted maypole said...

wow, that smile. MQ now says that she wants to stop crying, but it takes a while. She has learned this from me, of course, who tells her that she can just take some time to calm down. At least she now can tell me when the real anger and sadness has passed. It does take a while to calm down and get over it. Maybe I can find the things that will cheer her up to make her feel better. Golf?

Omaha Mama said...

Precious. And she suddenly looks like such a big girl.

My girl's favorite line was (and is), "But I N-E-E-E-E-D it!!!"

Well then here ya go.

jen said...

It's amazing how strong their attachments are. M's need to control, while probably normal continues to surprise me. her responses to weariness, pain, etc are the same - grab her two soothy things and crawl into my lap. many times a day.

kittenpie said...

I love how much she looks like Bub in that shot.

Pumpkinpie's current wail is, "I need a deep breff!" we've been trying to teach her to calm herself and shorten a cry by taking several deep breaths so that she can get a grip and either ask for help or figure out a solution. She hasn't quite mastered the art, let's just say.

Luisa Perkins said...

Ah, her face is a ray of sunshine on a gloomy morning. I feel better, too!

cinnamon gurl said...

Seriously?!? She's SO gorgeous!!

niobe said...

Fascinating. It never occurred to me that there was any treatment for pain except time and distance.

Suki said...

Apart from being just tewkyute4wordz, your Pie is one emotionally mature baby!
Kudos to you as a mom :)

ewe are here said...

Oh, what a darling girl! And those lovely curls!

MF now 'feels' the pain of others and other things, calling out 'Poor Tree!' (to the recently cut down tree); or 'Poor Daddy' (as Daddy pretend mopes about going off to work)... So dramatic. So cute. :-)

Patois said...

I've been away camping (in style, mind you) for a week and am now (guilt-ridden, fer shur) catching up. That girl of yours? Plum adorable.

Her Bad Mother said...

And that is a lesson that takes some of us decades to learn. Lucky, lucky her.