Over the weekend, my brother and his fiance took the big girls to see Finding Dory. They also took my two year old niece. I warned them. I know from experience that two year olds and movies don't work out well. I'm still not sure if they ever found Nemo, since my two year old nephew, at the time, "wanted to go home now" before the movie ended. I guess I need to re-watch Finding Nemo before considering it's sequel.
The girls seemed to enjoy the outing. However, during the Sunday afternoon/early evening insanity, I noticed that Marley was keeping to herself. I gave her the space she needed, knowing that she'd eventually share what was on her mind:
Marley: Mom, Finding Dory was kinda sad.
Me: Really, what makes you say that?
Marley: She couldn't find her parents.
Me: She found them eventually, right?
Marley: Yes, but she still lost them.
Me: Did the short term memory have to anything to do with it.
Marley: Yes, but it was just sad.
She walked away and I decided to get started on dinner. She comes into the kitchen a few minutes later and begins to cry hysterically.
Me: Marley, why are you crying? what's going on?
Marley: It's the movie. It was just so sad.
So my initial thought was, here comes the drama queen. I'm giving her the side eye like "for real?" Frank and I are looking at each other trying very hard not to laugh at the fact that our kid is crying over what we thought was a light hearted children's movie. Even Maya was looking at her like "what the... We saw the same movie, right? It was not that serious." But this kid is really crying. So I took a moment and considered that some events in the movie may have brought out fears that she may have had. As mature as she can be, she's still 8 and her brain processes things differently. While Maya sometimes doesn't go past the surface, Marley always goes deeper. As I watched the tears rolling down her face, I began to feel guilty for not taking her emotions seriously.
Me: Ok. She found her parents, so it ended well.
Marley: I know but what if I lose you and dad or anyone in my family?
Aha!!! now we're getting to the core. Losing her family could mean anything: mom and dad getting sick or dying, her heightened awareness of sick family members or a number of scenarios playing through her mind.
Before my compassion kicked in, I realized that I'd found yet another teaching moment:
Me: So when we're in the store and Mommy tells you to stay close, you need
to listen because I don't want to lose you either. There are crazy people who
like to snatch little
Before I continue my rant, Frank taps my arm and gives me a "Now is not the time to get into the specifics of kidnapping scenarios because she's already upset. You've touched on it, now reassure her that everything will be OK" look. So I crouch down and face her:
Me: Marley, you haven't lost mommy or daddy and everyone in your family is fine,
so you don't have to worry about that right now.
Marley: but mom, what if...
Me: you're too young to worry about what ifs. Focus on enjoying everyone while
we're all still here. If the time comes when we have to deal with something then we'll get through it together.
I then asked her to mix the ingredients for her favorite pumpkin fritters and all was right in her world.