Daughter had a tirade tonight about family. She doesn't want to go see Sister and Short Niece tomorrow. She hears bits of pieces of my phone conversations. She takes those bits and pieces and constructs stories to go with them. I often ask her if she has any questions as a result of what she heard, but too often she is afraid to ask.
In tonight's tirade, I was amazed by some of her insights into family dynamics. Unfortunately, she sees the tensions and assumes the family is going to fall apart. She is terrified of losing another family. This afternoon Sister-in-law was talking about their cat settling into her lap, and then feeling the baby move and jumping up and running off. I was relaying the story to Far Away Sister, who recalled when she was pregnant with Nephew. Tall Niece was almost 2 when Nephew was born. Far Away Sister would be reading a story to Tall Niece, and Tall Niece would be leaning in and cramping Nephew. He would kick to get her to move. She would respond by elbowing him. Far Away Sister thought it was hilarious that they began fighting before Nephew was even born. Daughter heard me responding, and assumed that Nephew was getting into fights at school. She went off on how Far Away Sister is too focused on Tall Niece and her college plans, who Daughter described as perfect. Daughter thought she should be paying attention to poor Nephew, who is getting into fights at school. Now Nephew isn't getting into any fights at school, but Tall Niece is a remarkable young woman who is in the process of completing her college applications for very elite colleges. I'm sure there are times when Nephew is a bit jealous.
I reassured Daughter that there have been disagreements and tensions between my siblings since Brother was born 41 years ago. I assured her that none of those problems stopped us from loving one another, and that nothing would tear us apart. I explained some of what she'd heard and misinterpreted. She listened, and she apologized. I try to protect her from the worst of the tensions, but there are conversations that take place in front of her. She assumes the worst, and is terrified. I hope that she will be able to enjoy seeing Sister and Short Niece tomorrow at the violin recital.
The other piece in all of this is that when we are with family, she doesn't get as much of my attention. I don't think I will ever be able to give her enough attention to satisfy her. When she complained about how I was busy talking to Brother and Sister-in-law all afternoon, I pointed out that yesterday she didn't have to share me with anyone. That was yesterday. Yesterday's over. Today she had to share me. Tomorrow she will have to share me. Monday I'm back in the office and she will really feel neglected. I hope we get her started into a program soon. She needs a life apart from me. I need a break from her neediness.