Motherhood hasn’t come naturally to Daisy Leverington. Four-and-a-half years in and she remains wide-eyed, terrified and in awe of the little person she’s responsible for. This week, emotions (and the tally of big questions) are running high.
My little girl is getting older. She’s bigger than her height chart, taller than the box office counter at the theatre where I work, she cried at the evil bear in Toy Story 3 yesterday. She worries a lot.
During her bedtime routine she voices concerns about people at school who are ‘mean’ or who won’t play with her. She’s experiencing feelings larger than simple childhood frustration. The temper tantrum has been replaced by questions about the ethics of a problem, and the sudden, overwhelming anger of her toddler years has made way for longer, deeper bouts of real sadness.
Her heart is growing, and I’m trying to shore up enough space in my own bank of worldly worries to accommodate her ever-growing empathy.
The Toy Story outburst caught me completely off guard. I had put it on and forgotten about it as we pottered around drawing pictures and gluing things. She went quiet, and turned to me with huge tear-filled eyes and choked out, “My eyes are prickling,” before giving way to huge sobs as I held her and tried to absorb some of the tears.
After she had calmed down, she explained the bear had been cruel to the baby doll, and broken its necklace. The bear, she explained, hadn’t said sorry. She wanted to know if the baby ever got its necklace back.
I’ve never felt so utterly responsible as I did at that moment. Do I lie and say ‘yes’, when I’m not sure if that’s true? Or do I tell her I don’t know and risk upsetting her even more? I bottled it and went for the middle ground, telling her that the baby has lots of great friends who would help him find and fix his necklace, but that we wouldn’t see it in the film.
She’s constantly challenging me and my ideas about how to be a good parent. I swore I’d never lie to her, but when faced with a sobbing four-year-old I can see the benefits of comfort over hard truth. And I don’t think that it’s necessarily a bad thing if you break your own rules. I reckon it means you are learning just as much as they are.
This little kid takes after me in so many ways I was hoping she wouldn’t. Her ability to hold a grudge is extraordinary. Years could have passed, but if you didn’t share your grapes with her in 2014 you’re screwed for life. I hope that she learns sooner than I did that other people’s meanness is entirely their own, and not remotely a reflection on her good heart. Her school friendships are like Game of Thrones. It’s a wonder no one’s been poisoned.
This girl has taught me more about myself than anyone else has. Every single thing I say, flippant comments or little white lies, is cemented in her impressionable brain. A thousand questions about every tiny part of life may get on my nerves at times, but better to answer them than have her fill in the blanks with fearful worries or assumptions.
I can’t palm her off with ‘it doesn’t matter’, or ‘don’t worry about it’ anymore, because these little things DO matter to her. They become big huge scary things when left to grow by themselves. I don’t ever want her to be afraid of something because I didn’t listen or take her worry seriously.
At times it is annoying and relentless and I have other things I really need to be doing, so it’s taking time to get used to these changes in her and in our relationship. We are an organic little team, and my hope is that she’ll learn that it’s OK to be wrong and upset and ultimately to take responsibility for both her successes and mistakes. For now, just humour me and share your grapes with her, OK? I’m knackered.4126 Views
Daisy Leverington - Actor, mother, expert at winging it.