Abigail told her first recognizable lie yesterday.
I say “recognizable” because it took so long for her to admit she wasn’t telling the truth that I think she’s been fibbing about this particular thing for a while and I just didn’t notice.
She’s gotten into the habit that when she’s standing by something and falls over, she lies on the floor crying until I pick her up and tell her it’s no big deal. I noticed a few days ago that it’s kind of odd that she just lies there instead of trying to get up, but yesterday I noticed that it wasn’t just odd, it was a dramatic production being staged for my benefit. Not the fall, which was perfectly genuine, but the way she lies pitifully on the floor with her arms and legs all spread out and cries until I get her up. It’s like when you see basketball players making a big deal of how terrible that fall was so the other guy will get a foul – you always know that can’t be real.
Now, drama is a big problem in my family. It’s probably not surprising it took me so long to notice she was being dramatic, but then I thought I was discouraging the drama by not making a big deal of her falling and simply scooping her up with the reminder that all was well and she didn’t need to make a big fuss.
Apparently that wasn’t enough. That became obvious when she fell yesterday and rather than getting up, she laid there all splayed out looking at me from across the room and crying. I said, “Come on over here and I’ll pick you up, Abigail.”
She cried harder and didn’t move a muscle. And for a second, I saw the strangest thing: I saw some of her grandmothers lying there doing exactly the same thing.
Several of Abigail’s grandmothers have had a problem with feeling sorry for themselves. This means it's a characteristic I can fall into also, but it's easier for me to see when it's become aged and it's in someone else. It’s not an attractive quality in and of itself, but even worse it can actually kill a person.
I know I said my family has a problem with drama and that was a very dramatic statement. If I hadn’t seen it happen, I would think it was a ridiculous thing to write. But it’s true: one of my grandmothers self-pitied herself to death. She died for no real reason at all except that she felt so sorry for herself that she refused to do anything except sit in a chair and mope until she gradually lost the ability to do anything else and just…died. It took two or three years, granted, but she should’ve been around at least another ten years in reasonable health. She was a tough old lady besides the feeling-sorry-for-herself problem.
Now today I have a beautiful little ten-month-old girl with a big bright smile who likes to lie on the floor and pretend she can’t get up so Mom will feel sorry for her. If I let her, someday she’ll be an old lady who sits in a chair and pretends she can’t do anything and ends up dying when she should’ve been around to see her great-grandchildren grow up. And that’s after she has a miserable marriage and children who don’t really want to be around her because she lets self-pity and bitterness eat away at her. There is a natural sweetness and sunnyness to her that we can either polish up and encourage or we can let get tarnished by silly stuff like this to the point where her beauty won’t be visible anymore.
So when I saw Abigail’s grandmothers lying on the floor insisting they couldn’t get up, I sat down a few feet away and said, “Come on, Abigail. Get up and come to me if you want me to pick you up.”
Abigail has been saying more things by the day, some of them fairly sophisticated for someone so young. But yesterday she said a whole new one. With tears rolling down her face, she looked up at me from her spread-eagled position on the floor and said, “I can’t!”
I didn’t know she could say that. I was so surprised that I laughed. I probably shouldn’t have done that. But here was this little tiny girl fibbing right to my face and thinking I wouldn’t know.
“Yes you can!” I said back to her. “Get up, Abigail.”
“Waaaaaah…I can’t!” she said again. Then she picked up her leg like it weighed a million pounds and made a big show of crossing it over her body like she was going to roll over. She even made grunting noises like she was working really hard to get up before flopping back and crying up at me pitifully. “I can’t!”
“Do you want me to pick you up?” I said.
“Waaaaaaah…yeah,” she said. That’s another new word over the past few days. Ben says we really need to start saying “yes” instead of “yeah”. But anyway.
“Then get up,” I said again.
“I can’t!” she insisted.
This took about twenty minutes. For twenty minutes she told me she couldn’t get up and I told her she was going to if she wanted me to hold her.
And then she just did. She stopped crying, picked herself up, and crawled into my lap where she sat peacefully and sucked her thumb.
“That’s my beautiful girl,” I told her. “Now let me tell you a story about your Grandma…”
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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