Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Don't Call Us. We'll Surprise You.

Out of the past 3 bedtimes, Sweetie has called either Hubby or I back up to her room two of those nights very shortly after putting her to bed. The first night, she called Hubby back twice - the first time because he apparently forgot to give her a kiss goodnight. And the second time because her nightgown sleeve was all twisty and she needed him to straighten it for her.

Last night she called me back up because I had forgotten to tell her what time to get up in the morning (no, I didn't).

So tonight, before I left her, I asked her if she was all set. If she needed anything. If she had any questions. If she was comfy. I told her I wasn't going to come back upstairs to her. That she couldn't call to us. She needed to be all set right now.

Um, okay. I'll call Daddy.

No, you won't. We're not coming back tonight. You need to go to sleep. No calling to us.

And there you go. All went well. There was no calling to us tonight after all. Good.

No - bad! What have I done?! I told her she wasn't allowed to call to us. I told her we weren't coming back to her if she called. That's terrible!

Of course I'd rush right back upstairs if she needed me. If she really needed something, she's got to know that it is perfectly fine to call for us. AND WE WILL COME. No problem. No questions asked. Right away.

All I wanted to do was stop the nonsensical questions and trivial issues she was presenting. I don't want to have to go back up for nothing. I don't want this to become a game.

But I do want her to know she is safe and can count on us to help her whenever she needs us to.

I just worry that she'll take my don't call us words to heart and seriously not call us. Even if she's sick. Or scared. Or hurt. Or whatever.

Because she has learned to listen to us, for instance, about what time she should get up in the morning. We tell her on the weekends to get up at 7 or 8. So, if she wakes up and her digital clock says 6 - she really won't get out of bed. She'll call to us maybe. But she won't get out of bed. Because we told her not to until 7 or 8.

Likewise - maybe she won't call us now - even if she really needs to. Oh - that would be bad.

I'm probably way overreacting, though. Seriously - if she was really that scared over something, or really felt that sick, I know in my gut that her immediate reaction would be to call out. I know she will. I just hope she does.

On another note - but similar, I think - is the whole issue of secrets. For a couple days last week, Sweetie was walking around not telling us things because everything was a secret. Cute for awhile, but then I didn't like it. I had to move in...

No. It's not good to keep secrets. We don't keep secrets from each other. Stop this.

And she did - eventually. Like I said, it was a couple days worth of secretiveness (and I'm positive she didn't actually have a secret - she was just experimenting with a new word), and then it was over.

... Until she and I watched a cartoon (sorry, can't remember which one) where the characters were getting ready for a secret, surprise party for one of the other characters.

Oh, boy. Secrets - bad. Surprises - good. Sometimes. Sometimes you need to keep secrets - like for surprise parties. Sometimes it can be more fun that way. But sometimes it's bad to keep secrets.

Oh, boy.

Luckily, Sweetie paid little attention to the whole surprise/secret issue playing out on the T.V. So I was more or less saved from going into any kiddie-sized explanation of good and bad secret/surprise keeping. But, at some point, it will all come up again. And I'll have to say something profound.

I'm reminded of the time, just about 4 years ago, when one of my brothers and his family were visiting our house for the afternoon. Hubby had taken everyone but my 7- month pregnant self and my 6 year old (I think - about that age, anyway) niece outside to see our yard. I took the opportunity to ask my niece if she was excited about the birthday party we'd be attending that afternoon for my grandparents.

Yes! And after their party it's going to be your baby shower!

Oh, really? Huh - isn't that nice?

My niece very nonchalantly informed me of the surprise party my family was planning for me. She didn't mean to ruin the surprise. It was just an exciting event she knew about and she wanted to share that excitement with me.

In the end I confessed that she had filled me in. And, no, of course she didn't get in trouble over telling me. She was a little kid. She didn't know any better. And, in fact, maybe it was actually a good thing that she didn't keep the secret. Maybe she knew, however subconsciously, that secret keeping, essentially, was bad. And so she told.

Now my niece is 10 years old (again - I think) and we'll be seeing her and her family very soon to celebrate Thanksgiving together. But now maybe she can actually help me explain to Sweetie the difference between keeping good surprise secrets and not keeping other things so private.

Whatever. All I know is that I can use all the help I can get.

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