Poor Maria – she has her mom’s emotional curse. I remember when I was eight years old and I accidentally spilled milk at my grandma’s table. She looked at me with a frown and disappointingly said “Oh, Mary Grace.” That was enough to send me over the edge and I cried in her bedroom for 15 minutes until she came in to tell me it was alright and she still loved me.
Tonight, Maria stuck her tongue out at Jon at the dinner table. She did it playfully but Jon and I are trying to teach her that even if done in a playful manner, it is still not appropriate. Jon firmly counseled her on not sticking her tongue out at him or others. As soon as he finished, I could see her eyes begin to water and her fine little mouth begin to quiver. Jon and I looked at each other knowing that she was starting to cry. But tonight, instead of crying, she closed off completely. She just stopped talking to either of us. I asked her questions about her day to try to provoke her to talk but she informed me that she did not wish to talk during dinner. Jon and I gave each other the “oh, my” looks and continued to eat and engage with Mario. After I tried to talk to her a few more times, and we could tell that she was wanting to come out of her muteness, Jon finally asked her to tell him what was wrong. She wanted to tell me first because she and I have a pact that she can tell me anything and I will always listen (she remembered that the other night when she wanted to tell me about getting mad at a friend at school; she tugged at my shirt in the living room and said “remember how you told me I could tell you anything, well…” – I love that she is taking me up on it).
Jon told her she could talk to him, too, and so she laid it out to him. “You made me sad, dad.” He couldn’t stand hearing that from her and took her close to him to give her a big hug. “You can’t stick your tongue out but that does not mean I don’t love you, Maria.” He tickled her sides, and they laughed together. I was proud that she told him her feelings and looked him in the eye. A good sign. She can’t stand to be angry at Jon or I for too long. She is like a pack dog – she needs the pack to be together and if they are not, she fixes it pretty quickly.
Mario, on the other hand, would have ignored us for all of dinner and cared less that Jon scolded him. He can hold a grudge for a while. He is more like a stray dog, independent of any pack, ready to take on the world by himself. If Jon and I want to support him, great. If not, he will go at it on his own…. Even though he certainly depends on us when it comes to wanting to play on our Ipads or Iphones. At those times, he can play the sweet, adoring, darling role real well.