Removing Lillian’s sleeper is a challenge in patience and dexterity. She approaches every interaction as an opportunity to be tickled. Changing her clothes or changing her diaper I’m met with peals of wild laughter, and exclamations of, “tickle, tickle!” She clenches her body, knees and neck to chest and grins like a hyena. Her eyes say, “we’ll see if you can grasp that zipper!” as she wiggles and laughs. Oh, how she laughs!
This high silliness started after I had my c-section and I could not lift Lillian to the changing table. I made her lay on the floor to change her diaper. The moment the little body hit the floor this unquenchable silliness would erupt and I’d find myself frowning and exhausted. I took the whole thing as disobedience, a little girl’s plan to make my life more difficult than it needed to be. A diaper change was war, and I was a general. I was concerned with tactics and results. I spoke harshly to her. I held her body still with my leg as I dressed her. I resorted to bribery. With jelly beans.
To just be still.
But I needed to be still. I needed to look at my daughter and love her fun-loving, silly toddler self and cherish these moments of alone time with my darling. My sweetheart. I don’t want to change her spirit and laughter, I want to nurture those beautiful qualities in her personality.
I’ve started thinking about my relationship with my daughters in gardening terms. They are my little flowers and I want them to grow big, beautiful and thriving. I plan to water my plants generously love and encouragement, and occasionally prune back the branches which are heading in the wrong direction.
So now I approach diaper changes with more gentleness. Sometimes I would still rather get the thing over quickly, but I try to at least smile at her and kiss her little head when I feel impatient. I usually follow the task with an enthusiastic tickle.
I’m also trying to forget that I typically shower the real-life plants in my yard with nothing but parched neglect. Ahem.