Wednesday, December 12, 2007

In which I am forced to quote the lyrics of a cheesy Chicago song

For quite some time, I have been frustrated by Lana's steadfast refusal to walk upstairs by herself. (I mean, Lana is physically capable of walking up stairs - it's just that she refuses to go to the second floor of our home if no other family members are up there.)

I was not understanding this, since the upstairs is where all of our bedrooms are, and Lana seems to like her bedroom and the toys that are there. But, she will only play in her room if other people are also upstairs.

We have had angry scream-y mornings in which I have asked her to do something, which, in my mind, is TOTALLY REASONABLE while I am trying to get Gabriel out to the bus on time, and Lana and myself into the car immediately thereafter. Namely, I will say, "Lana, please go up and put on some socks" or "Please go up and get your hair brush and a pony tail holder."

And then Lana will say "No," and I will say, "yes" and Lana will say, "NO PEOPLE UP THERE!" and I will say, "SO WHAT?" and the conversation just goes downhill from there and ends with me stomping angrily upstairs or going upstairs WITH HER to get whatever item it is that is needed and feeling frustrated that she is being disobedient.

I was about at the end of my rope with this when, a few nights ago, we got a bit of insight into the situation.

As is our custom, all four of us were sitting at the kitchen table just before bed. Gabe and Lana were eating their snack, I was reading to them from Encyclopedia Brown, and Husband was grading papers.

Lana had finished her snack and I had finished The Case of the Purloined Watermelon or whatever whodunit the good Encyclopedia had been delving into that night, and Gabriel had one more peanut butter cracker to finish. Husband told Lana to go upstairs and start brushing her teeth. (It is easier to get teeth brushed when both children are not in the bathroom together. I don't know what it is about teeth-brushing-time that brings out the worst persnickityness in them.)

"Nobody up there," Lana said.

"Gabe will be up in a minute. You go on upstairs and start brushing your teeth." Husband said.

"But, no people upstairs. Nobody upstairs." Lana continued.

Husband looks frustrated and says, "Just go on up and brush your teeth. Mommy and Gabe will come up in a second."

Lana's face bunches up with near tears. "If I go upstairs, and everybody stay down here, you will leave me. You will go away. You will leave." She blurts.

Stunned silence.

"We will never leave you." Husband says categorically.

"Yes," Lana says, "you will leave."

"We will never leave you by yourself. Not ever." Husband says again.

"You will," she said, in a quiet, sad voice that made it clear she believed it was only a matter of time before we betrayed her in this way.

Suffice it to say that I worry that, as an adult, Lana may have abandonment issues that could rival those of Meredith Grey...

In a way, I am relieved that Lana feels that she can communicate her fears to us. On the other hand, I find it heartbreaking that she worries that we are not really her forever family and are engaged in some kind of elaborate hoax to leave her alone and helpless.

I must confess that, when I went into her bedroom that night to sing her a song before sleeping (normally I sing her "I'm In Love With A Big Blue Frog" and "The Other Day I Saw A Bear"), I found myself crooning the first verse of a song with which I was obsessed as a pre-teen girl enamoured of The Karate Kid movies.

Yes, I had to sing part of [gasp] The Glory of Love, namely:

I will always love you
I will never leave you alone
Sometimes I just forget
Say things I might regret
It breaks my heart to see you crying
I don't want to lose you
I could never make it alone

Sometimes, only the cheesiest love song can say what really needs to be said.


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Blogger Christina said...

Oh (said in a voice that says I'm both touched and sad for Lana)... that is so good she could find the words to tell you what scared her. And I love that you found the perfect song for reassuring her! (Chicago is just the right balance of cheesy and 80's and therefore perfect for lullabyes!). Hopefully with enough reassurance over time she will not have Meredith-level issues!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007 5:24:00 PM  
Blogger KelleyO said...

Oh Gretchen! You made me cry at work!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007 5:40:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...


Wednesday, December 12, 2007 9:30:00 PM  
Blogger mam said...

I'll have to join in with the weepers. I'm sure, though, that if anyone can guide her through a healthy attachment, it's you guys.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007 11:34:00 PM  
Blogger thecurryseven said...

That just breaks my heart. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could just kiss and hug our children's hurt away? TM is going through a phase now where everytime his dad leaves for work, TM is convinced that dad will never return. It's an irrational fear, so it doesn't matter how many times I say dad will return for dinner, TM just can't believe it. It makes me both crazy and and sad all at the same time.

Thursday, December 13, 2007 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger maxhelcal said...

Crying here too.... Big sap that I am.

I think it's really something that she verbalized her fear to you. Smart little girl she is. Love the song. It can be your special thing you share together.


Thursday, December 13, 2007 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Space Mom said...

At least you now know....

This is so sad... I hope you guys can work together to help her over this fear....

HUGS to Lana....

Thursday, December 13, 2007 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger niobe said...

This is so hard to read, but I'm glad you could find the right words, even if they had to come from The Glory of Love

Thursday, December 13, 2007 3:34:00 PM  
Blogger E. said...

Wow, I'm impressed you even remembered the song and were able to use it in that context. Perfect.

Thursday, December 13, 2007 4:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are such an honest mom-alternating between telling us how short your fuse is or what not, but equally as likely to spill your heart out and lucky us!...we get splashed on.

Poor Lana. My heart hurts for your darlin'. At least now you know...

(from Iowa)

Thursday, December 13, 2007 6:40:00 PM  
Blogger Stepping On Legos said...

Oh what a sad sweet story :-( I think you and Lana are so lucky to have found each other - you are a perfect family for each other. So many others would have just forced the issue and never gotten to the crux of it but slowly you coaxed it out and now you can walk forward from there.

Friday, December 14, 2007 6:15:00 PM  
Blogger Michele said...

Wow! What a revelation. I'm glad she finally let you know what the problem was. She is one very lucky girl to have such a loving family who will always be there for her...even if she isn't sure of that right now.

Monday, December 17, 2007 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger The Yak said...

We have the same problem with both our daughters but esp. the youngest (turning 6 in Feb). In our case it was clear why. One day I was home with the kids and hubby was out. I was sick and fell asleep on the couch under a big quilt while the kids played happily in the playroom nearby. Next thing I know they're screaming in fright, tears running down their cheeks, because they really did think we had quietly abandoned them. They had peeked into the living room but didn't realize I was hidden under the quilt. Then a few months later we moved into a bigger house, which didn't help the problem. It does get frustrating but I keep telling myself they'll grow out of it and suddenly one day one of them will stormed upstairs alone, slam the bedroom door behind her and crank obnoxious music on her stereo.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 4:17:00 PM  

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