Monday, May 4, 2015

Someone tell me she isn't a hoarder.

But, I want to explain more about something I mentioned in my last post.  A while ago (couple of months ago maybe?) I was trying to clean up the many toys that invaded our living space.  I noticed that I kept on having to pick up this particular toy, which was always in many pieces scattered about.  It could only be played with when it was put together.  And it wasn't something the kids could put together themselves.  After many assembles by me, I noticed that I was missing more and more pieces that made it sturdy.  Then I saw a support column that had been chewed by Rooney.  Then I noticed another column in another room, separate from most of the other pieces.  Well, I broke.  I couldn't take it anymore.  Yes, it was Harlie's birthday present.  And I feel bad about that.  But, clearly it could no longer be played with and no one was asking me to build it anymore.  So, I threw all the pieces in a plastic grocery bag, fully intending to throw it away.  But, I couldn't do it.  So, I left the bag in the toy bin.  For like several weeks.  And no one ever opened it or asked about it.

So, I finally threw it away.

Weeks, maybe months passed.  And "we" (meaning "me") were cleaning up the kids' rooms.  Harlie found a support column to the toy that was long gone.  She grabbed it with enthusiasm and held it up proudly.  Then she bolted out the door.  Ugh.  She was going to go put it in that bag.  It was probably the reason why the damn toy wouldn't stay together.  Of course the bag was long gone.

It was only a couple of minutes before she returned, sobbing, face all splotchy.  I looked at her and told her I was sorry.  And I meant it.  But, there's only so much I can take!  These kids have to learn to respect their things and put them away.  Right?  Anyway, she looked at me and said, "Mama, I want to love you."  huh?  Want to love me?  Well, maybe she's saying something else.  So, I said, "I love you, too."  Then she repeated, "No, I want to love you."  "Well, you can love me," I said.  She said it again.  I sat down in front of her and said, "Harlie are you saying you're mad at me?"  And she said, "Yeah."  Since she can't pronounce the "s" sound, she says "yeah" instead of "yes."

I've always known how important communication was.  And how infinitely more difficult life is with an impaired version of it.  But, in the past, it's always been about communicating her wants and needs.  Now, we're getting into her feelings.  And isn't it often difficult for kids to understand their own feelings - even when they can communicate just fine?  The thought of her having so many feelings, desires, protests, observations, etc. stuck in her head makes me feel so heavy.  It must be so hard to be her, to be so often misunderstood.

Somehow, we got through the moment.  Thank God I made the connection (and I can only hope I was right) and it gave her a way to tell me what she was thinking.  I told her that she was getting to be a big girl and she was going to have to be more responsible for her things.  I went on to explain that I can't keep cleaning up after everybody and that isn't fair to me.  She actually seemed to understand what I was saying.  I gave her a bath to help her calm down and she seemed fine after that.

But something about that moment changed her.  She tells me she loves me all the time now.  Like dozens of times per day.  And she hugs me, spontaneously, for no reason.  If I get upset at the boys, she starts crying and says, "But Mama, I love you."  It's so crazy.  One night I was mad at the boys for acting like animals out in public and I was expressing my displeasure (yelling at them).  When Harlie started to cry and said, "But Mama, I love you."  Murphy said, "Mom, you're going to have to yell at us away from Harlie from now on."

There was a clock in her room and we don't know what happened to it.  Can't find it.  She will not stop asking me about it.  She looks at me with suspicion now.  She thinks I threw it away.  And I might have.  I've never claimed to be sane all the time, and I do make bad decisions sometimes.  But, her room is packed with stuff.  There's a big fight going on in there between her medical stuff and her kid stuff.  So, who knows what happened in the heat of the moment?  We are going to give her room a major overhaul soon.  Because I just can't take it anymore.  The girl needs some space that she likes, that isn't overrun by crappy medical supplies and equipment.

Anyway, the other day I brought down my summer clothes and put my winter clothes in bins.  While doing that, Harlie came into my room, watched me put some clothes in a bin and started crying.  I thought maybe she thought that I was leaving or something.  So, I assured her I wasn't and did my best to explain what I was doing.  After that she looked at me and said, "Mama, you're mad at me."  Which, of course I wasn't!  At least not at that moment. Then she said, "Where flower clock?"  Oh my gosh.  I really don't know what's going on with her.  Literally, this whole crying thing lasted for an hour and a half!  I finally broke down and said, "Harlie, if I can't find your flower clock, I will go buy you a new one, okay?"  She smiled, and stopped crying.

Now, please understand that I am not necessarily proud of that parenting choice.  And it's certainly not one I would make for the boys.  But, in this case, I just couldn't take it anymore.  Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

She's clearly having issues with letting things go.  Or not having control over her things.  I don't know.  I just pray that she's not a hoarder.  Seriously, these are the things that she has lost it over:

Old pajamas that she finally outgrew (size 5!)
Rooney's toys that get holes in them and have to be thrown away (that was a whole big thing, too!  I had to take her to the pet store to get a new toy for him.  And they didn't have the exact one, so I just grabbed another, but that wasn't good enough.  She left the store crying because she wanted to get him a new blue dog toy.  She picked his blue dog out of the trash and I ended up pulling all of the stuffing out so he could keep it.  Oh, the things we do to try and bring peace into our lives...)
An old kiddie pool that was behind the shed (she's still asking for a new one).
The flower clock.
Her winter pajamas that she will most likely be able to wear next winter.  I had to put those in a clear bin in her closet so she could see them.
A snake sprinkler that we had years ago?  I can't even remember.  I don't know how she did.  I don't remember what happened to it (but I'm betting I threw it away).  She wants a new one of that, too.
And last, but not least, the backyard play set, which Tom demolished.

I have to admit, this one hurt a little.  I was upstairs when Harlie walked up to me, sobbing.  She grabbed my hand and brought me over to the window and pointed at Tom taking down the play set.  It's been our plan for a while to take it down.  The kids really didn't play on it.  The only thing they ever did was swing.  So, Tom put a board up between two trees and hung the swings on that.  Even though I knew it was time, it still stung.  I guess because it was time.  I'm not one to get particularly sentimental with the kids growing up.  I think I have a very different perspective and appreciation for all the "normal" things they are doing.  The alternative to them growing up and maturing isn't a good one, so it's not something I think I should be sad about.

However, we are entering a new phase and leaving behind our baby years for good.  And there is a touch of sadness to that, I admit.  We moved into this house when Murphy was two and I was pregnant with Harlie.  I remember being so happy to have it in the backyard for him.  And he will turn 11 on Monday!  But, there are so many good experiences ahead of us.  And the new backyard is going to be better and more fun for ALL of us to enjoy.  So, I told Harlie all of the things that she's going to love about the new backyard, and she seemed to be okay.

A few days later, the kids were playing in the yard when Harlie took a flower and put it where the play set used to be...

Murphy asked her why she did that and she said, "Daddy killed it." She tried to act all serious and mournful, but then started laughing.  So, I think she's fine now. And she loves the new swing!

That smile tells me she's okay letting go of the play set.

Tom's new happy place. And Harlie's, too.  She loves to roast marshmallows
even though she doesn't get to eat them. 

She loves the new location of the swings.
Honestly, they have played in the backyard more than ever since the play set went away.  We've had friends over for s'mores and it's just a more enjoyable space.  I will admit that I was really nervous at first, but Tom has done a great job and proved that I shouldn't worry so much.

Now we are spreading new mulch (we haven't added mulch in a couple of years, which is pretty obvious).  We have a lot of mulch area in the backyard (way more than grassy areas) so it's going to take us a while to finish.  But, we'll get there.

It's now 11:47 pm on Monday night and I started this post at least a week ago.  I just saw a spider on our bed and I involuntarily screamed and woke Tom up, which he was not happy about.  We had to go on a spider hunt (I have no idea where he went, which is terrifying) and now I have to go and get off the laptop.  More later.

Thanks and much love,
Christy xo


Anaya Rivenwood said...

I wonder if it's a control thing. With all the medical and health treatments she has been through and still has to do, her stuff may be the only area she feels in charge of. Then you come along and have a clear out and she finds out she doesn't have total control of it after all. This is no criticism of you, Christy. I remember the days when my kids stuff spread everywhere and got broken - I started binning the bits and the message slowly got through. Clearing out has to be done. All you can do is explain why you're doing it and wait for the day she gets it xxxxx

Susan said...

I'm sure she's not Christy. My kids wanted to save everything. Cherish it. Evie is just getting to the age where all the little trinkets, toys and dolls are getting moved out. I think the thing is, too, when our kids don't have the words to express their feelings crying has to do. Love you. Miss you. XOXOXO.