Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Undivided attention

I spent the evening with just sweet L tonight, a mama-daughter date. I didn't tell her where we were going at first and she didn't even care, so excited was she for the time. For all that her sister is anxious and her brother is hesitant, she is sensitive in her own right, needing to be noticed and heard in a very acute way. She flourishes in having one's full attention, and it's hard to give in a family of our size and shape, and so nights like this are important

She's a little tentative right now, feeling her way between having outgrown, really, the place she's called her daytime home for five years, and her nerves about the beginning of kindergarten. It's a liminal place, this month on the calendar and her brain, and she's feeling those unsturdy edges of what she knows and how she understands herself. She was prime to benefit from a night of specialized mama-proximity. Sometimes that's all she needs to regain her footing, just some undivided attention.

She is the most observant of the three kids, always cataloging cars by how smiley or angry their rear facades look, compositional components of tail lights and insignia and trunk handles assembling biomorphically into faces she sees. She notices the shapes in clouds, always, and is the one most likely to stop for a roley poley on the sidewalk or to admire a spiderweb. She delights in details the most similarly to how I delight in details, but in her high expectations she also feels fiercely disappointed if you fail to stop and notice those details with her, even if your reasons are valid, like her sister having an anxiety issue in public or her brother peeing on the hardwood that surrounds the toilet but not in the toilet itself.

She wants to notice and she wants you to notice and she wants you to notice in concert with her, so you can commune in the noticing, and thus be connected by the experience of one's senses. I think one day she'll excel in the social sciences. Right now she excels in one-on-one conversation.

We pulled into the parking garage and she (and only she would) asked what the top looks like, and can we go there, and can she see? And so we drove up six twirls of ramp to the seventh floor, having passed hundreds of empty spots, and exploded from contained cement to unbroken sky and city silhouettes. And she herself exploded from the car, giggling and running, eager to see from this new vantage point.

Nobody else was parked on the top deck. The world was her oyster.

We saw a movie together. A blogging friend had free passes to the next big animated film that will open this weekend, and so she had the triple delight of going out with just Mama, seeing a movie that all her friends are talking about before anyone else, and no-share popcorn. I firmly believe we are doing them a great service in providing them each their siblings, but I also believe firmly that sometimes a kid needs to be attended singly. We saw the whole world from the top of Silver Spring and a fun film and stayed out way past her bedtime.

As we walked back across a now-dark parking garage roof under a rain's-coming sky, I lobbed one last affirmation at my girlicious. "Thanks for coming with me tonight, L. I had so much fun with you."

Thank you, she trilled as she swept her arms wide, executing one last balletic spin before climbing into the backseat of the car, for being such a wonderful hostess! And I just laughed. It's another thing about that girl. She always makes me laugh.

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