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Friday, September 18, 2015

Ella's Future Husband

One of my daughter's very best friends in this world is a little boy. His family and ours share many similarities, and I can see why Ella adores this boy so much. This little boy is full of joy and life. He is strong and smart and spunky. Sometimes Ella complains about how friends have been mean to her- never with this boy. When I go to pick her up from playing at his house, she is always as content as she is at our house, which, given her anxiety, is really saying something. I hear all about how they play "boy stuff," like Pokemon, or Batman guys. Hide and seek, or coloring. She comes home with Pokemon coloring pages that her friend has printed out just for her. They never play dolls, or house, which Ella likes to play with her girl friends. And Ella is fine with having friends who like to do different activities. I think having three brothers has made Ella comfortable with all types of play. 

Ella has had an extremely difficult adjustment to this school year. She has always had trouble separating from me, whether it's to go to the bathroom (even at our house!) alone, or go to preschool for 2 hours without me, or have a playdate without me. She struggles with being afraid that I will never come back. This year, that fear has incapacitated her. She wasn't sleeping. She wasn't eating. She was crying for most of every day. Her teacher is amazing, as is the school social worker. They have done everything they can to help Ella acclimate to school. Ella is allowed to bring in teddy bears from home. She has her weighted lap pad with her if she needs it at school. The teacher is sensitive to the fact that Ella is very anxious about math, because she doesn't understand it many times. The social worker at school has had lunch with Ella in her office to help her learn that there are people at school who care about her and who will help her. It's been incredible. But still Ella's sadness persisted.

Six days ago, we started Ella on an anti-anxiety medication. We haven't even gotten to the full dose that the psychiatrist recommended yet, and already we're seeing improvements in Ella's anxiety level. She stopped crying at school. She hasn't had to have one of us carry her onto the bus, crying. She doesn't say every chance she gets that she hates school, that math is hard, that she feels sick, that she can't go, that she misses me so much that it makes her shake all day because she's trying not to cry. (Ugh. Dagger to the heart with that one.) 

Yesterday, Ella even slept straight through the night until 5AM!!!! I couldn't believe it. Was it due to exhaustion? Or her new sleepy med (that hasn't been working very well up to this point)? Or the blend of essential oils I diffused in her room all night? Or her weighted blanket? I don't know and I don't care. One night is one step in the right direction.

I've also noticed that with the reduction in anxiety, Ella is more talkative, even with me. She's always been a great communicator, although she does have a vocal tic that's sort of like an "um" or "eh," and this really frustrates her when she talks sometimes. But this past week, Ella has been sharing new insights with me.

Two days ago, Ella and I were sitting at the table doing her math homework. She is extremely distracted whenever we do homework, so I can't imagine what she's like at school. So we were supposed to be focusing on math, but instead Ella looked up at me seriously. I thought "Good God! This kid can't even finish writing the number '4' before she has to spurt out some more random information about whatever thought is flitting through her head at the moment! Here we go with ANOTHER ADD kid! We are NEVER GOING TO FINISH MATH!!!"

But it's a good thing I was in an outwardly patient mood. Because this is what my little girl told me. 

(We're changing Ella's friend's name to Joe to protect him from the mob of little girls who will no doubt want his address so they can also have the gift of being his bff.)

"I sit by Joe all the time."

Uh oh. I couldn't read in Ella's face if this was going to be a good thing she was telling me, or a bad thing. 

"I sit by Joe on the bus sometimes. I sit by Joe in our class. I sit by Joe on the carpet. I sit by Joe at lunch."

I decided to swing the conversation in a positive way, since I still didn't know if Ella was happy or annoyed with sitting by Joe. I said "Isn't it great to have such a good friend with you all day!"

Ella said, seriously, "Yes. When I sit by Joe, he makes me feel like you are with me, but not with me. Like you're at the school but just not in my classroom. That's why I like sitting by Joe all the time. He makes me feel like you are with me. And then I'm not so sad."

Ok, seriously. I cry with gratitude for "Joe" every time I think about this. First of all, how profound, that my little 6 year old can verbalize such abstract, deep feelings. That's amazing in itself. Second, what an absolute gift that she has this little boy in her life. He makes her feel secure, and safe. He brings her peace and comfort, just by being next to her. He gives her all the feelings that she has when she is with me. Wouldn't we all give our left elbow to have someone like that in our lives? And my little girl gets to experience this as a 6 year old. She is truly blessed. 

We talked about what a wonderful friend this little boy is. And how lucky Ella is to know him, and that we should thank him for helping her feel so much better when she is out in the world. 

Then she was able to move on to write the number '4' on her math page.

The next day I went to the little boy's house to fetch Ella for dinner, and I had time to talk with his mom. I told her what Ella had said about her son, and I thanked her for raising such a beautiful human being. We both got emotional, and she said thank you for telling me this, because I don't know how he is when he's not home. 

We never do, do we? We raise our kids to the best of our ability. We teach them and love on them and let them out into the world every day, hoping they will be able to fly with grace and make the world a better place. But we don't really know how they are in the big world. I thought it was very important for my friend to know what a huge impact her son has on my daughter. It's important for Mama's to know that all the teaching, and hugs, and reading books, and tucking in at night, and the arguing about taking a bath, and the wiping boogers off your kid's face with the back of your hand when you don't have a tissue...all that has led to beautiful, caring, kind, compassionate children who are just amazing people. They are people who help each other get through life. What a blessing to the world that kids like "Joe" are in it.

I will forever adore "Joe" because of what Ella told me about how he makes her feel. 

My friend and I decided our children absolutely have to get married when they grow up. 

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