Friday, June 09, 2006

Conversations With J

The last three days, when I come to get J in the evening from her new daycare I find her crying. Yesterday Ms A told me "I notice she cries when the daddies come in. She seems just fine when the mommies do" I told her "I think I know why" Ms A was acutely embarrassed and said promptly "I don't want to know. Its not any of my business".

Once we got home, I asked J "Is Ms A right that you cry when the daddies come to pick their children ?"

J says "Yes."

I ask her "Why does that make you cry, baby ?"

She says "Because they all think they are my Daddy when they are not. I really don't have one. I don't want any of them to be my Daddy. I want to have a real Daddy of my own"

I was puzzled by that explanation. She was not saying that seeing the daddies of other kids made her miss not having one of her own. The word "real" was repeated several times. She was trying to say something that I was not quite getting.

I asked "What makes you think that the other Daddies think they are your Daddy ?"

She replies "Because they think they are my Daddy" and she bursts into tears again.

"Do they say or do something to you ?" I ask more confused than ever

"No" she says still sobbing

"Do they smile at you ?" I ask

"Yes. But I don't want any of them to be my Daddy. They are not my real Daddy" she declares empathically starting to cry again.

I wonder what about a smile could convey the message that J is getting. I was quite amazed at the complicated thought process that was churning in J's little head.

" So the other mommies don't think that they are your Mommy ?" I ask

"No they don't" she says promptly

I have no idea of what to make of all this. J is the kind of kid that most adults spontaneously adore. I have seen her smiling and greeting random people (men and women) at the parking lots, parks, stores - wherever. They happily reciprocate and some of them are "daddies" and are smiling at her but that does not make her cry. I am not sure how this all adds up.

There is nothing quite as frustrating as having a child tell you where and how it hurts their little hears and not being able to make any sense of it. I have parsed through what she told me a hundred times since yesterday without being able to come any closer to comprehension.


Priyamvada_K said...

Dear HC,
A big hug to J. I feel for her. I thought about your post, and here's what I came up with - its a pure hunch, so bear with me.

I think J might be feeling conflicted. When she sees a dad being affectionate to his little one, a part of her might be wishing that this dad was her father (she probably interprets the smile as an invitation to be her dad too). But another part must be fiercely loyal to her "real" father, whom she probably does not know. Or she must be acknowledging reality that no matter what she wishes, the other dads in the daycare are not her real dad and will never be. Hence the crying.

I have seen this kind of conflicted behavior in Mr.P's daughter. One minute she adores me and wants me to "live with them forever". Another minute she rejects me, resents my very presence and acts out that resentment in no uncertain terms (because she wonders if I'm taking her mother's place). So there.

I am also reminded of a scene in "Gone with the wind", where Scarlett's son feels close to Rhett Butler, but feels that his loyalties lie with his own father who is deceased. Rhett plays with him, and calls him his little boy. Later, this boy asks Scarlett doubtfully "Mom, can I be two men's boy?".

Hope this helps.


Heartcrossings said...

Thanks so much, Priya for that insight.

I tend to agree with your analysis. J also has a very strong sense of fair, unfair, real, unreal, true and false etc. She tends not to like anything that is not clearly black or white.

I guess the ambiguity of her own feelings (like you have described) makes her frustrated with herself and she cries.

She wishes there was a "real" daddy that was her very own and she could direct her affections to him. She also rejects my ex as her daddy. She expects me to find her a "good" one. In fact yesterday she asked me “Mommy, are you trying hard enough to find me a good daddy ?” I had her talk to my Dad later in the evening and that seemed to calm her down finally.