I know I told you I would be having my own adventures in babysitting last weekend. As an Auntie, I take every opportunity (ugh when available!) to see Miss My Pie and Damanisaur – I mean Amaya and Damani. But boy was this past weekend a great eye-opening, affirming experience. I arrived Friday evening to be met with this question, “Auntie Erin, we are going to have our own sleepover right?”
We sure did!
If you read my earlier post about Tran, you will no doubt realize what a huge decision it was for her to attend graduate school – knowing she had one little lady at home and one on the way. Tran has big dreams (always has), but to realize that your dreams mean time spent away from home must be a challenge in motherhood! I couldn’t help think about Amaya’s question under this context and as a social worker. What else was her question asking of me? It became abundantly clear to me that my studies have, and will, directly impact my interactions with the children in my life. Case study in point:
Our Adventures in Babysitting:
First up was dance class! Amaya has really enjoyed her dance class – probably as much as her mother! This activity was the first observation to me of just how challenging it must be for Tran. Prior to going to dance class Amaya, sliding in her stockings, fell. Except the cry was delayed…a little too long. As she fell she looked up at me, searching for my reaction, “Whoops! What a fall! You ok?” The response – crocodile tears and a wail. Immediately I counter reacted by swooping in and picking her up, “There there. It was a bit of a shock to you to fall. Looks like it startled you. That’s ok. You’re gonna be alright.” Followed by more wails. So I sat with it for a while. But these tears were not because she fell. So I asked, “Amaya, did you really hurt yourself from the fall or is something else upsetting you.” Silence, and then, “Something else.” Amaya stated that she wanted her mother to come to dance with her. So I told her that today I was going to take her, but that her Mom wished she could be there too. To normalize her feelings I related my own story – I live in Boston and my Mother lives in Richmond, VA near her Grandpa. I miss her too, but we talk on the phone, Skype, and share stories of our time apart. I assured her that her mother would be coming home the next day and asked, “Amaya what could we do to help make sure your mom doesn’t miss out on this sleepover?” Response, “You have your camera?” Duh child do I ever leave home without it!? Amaya’s goal – take photos of our adventures to show to her mother so she could share in the moments and not “miss” out.
Lesson one – Cries have different meanings – and reasons. Validate and sooth.
So we dug out my camera and started documenting the day
Breakfast with caterpillar and goat (who is riding on caterpillar).
Dance outfit CHECK.
All the single ladies….oh whoops wrong song.
Help Auntie Erin by picking out your own outfit and getting dressed while Auntie Erin changes a diaper…. BIG GIRL CHECK!
Tickle time with Damani!
Take photos like Auntie Erin…including a finger in front of the lens….CLASSIC!
Nap time …. zzzzzzzzzzz.
“Picnic” with Max. Two of the craziest kids – I mean look at those faces!
Yea fudge pop after finishing dinner AND trying guacamole – and LIKING it!!!!
I had a blast with these two! They taught me about patience, silliness, and improvisation rocks. Ultimately, I couldn’t help thinking of Tran and Norman that day. Both texted me about a million times – which I totally would have done too! It is so hard, for all people involved, to cope with being apart. But Tran and Norman do an amazing job. Amaya did so well, and Damani gave his Auntie Erin NOOOOOO problems (including ones babies are KNOWN for – thanks bud!). If I were in Tran’s shoes I don’t know how well I would handle it all, but then again, Tran reassured me that you just figure it out along the way. However, I’d point out that it also has a lot to do with who she and Norman are as people (their ability to empathize and show genuine response to their children’s needs). Figuring out how to respond to Amaya’s needs out of our “sleepover” was an affirmation that I could actually do this! Life is about change, adjustments, and finding silver linings in upsetting situations. What a great lesson this weekend was for me!
Lesson two: My photo taking obsession can be a coping skill. Justified!
So to Tran and Norman, thanks for letting me test out my skills on your kids (brave souls). And big kudos for a wonderful job as parents under tough circumstances. I have no doubt that Amaya and Damani will continue to astound me and grow into wonderful people. You two definitely win best parents award – after my own of course!