It's enlightening when you're three-year-old is such a sweet giver. Sure, she melts downs when she can't watch Wonder Pets, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore or the Yo Gabba Gabba Christmas special -- two weeks after Christmas (please, I can't watch it anymore, help me, it's already January 8).
But from Christmas Day with Nonna to the week after when my unwell folks (Nana and Papa) actually made it here for a few days, Bea reveled in us opening our gifts, some of which she picked out herself, like my Santa Raider ornament and Bryce's toy cars, and like the earrings I had specially made for Mama titled "working them angels" after Mama and the B-hive via the artisan Katy Bransfield at Between Sun & Moon.
And just this last week when Bryce was having a nuclear meltdown during dinner, with both me and the Mama throwing our arms up in surrender, Bea did her best to make her little sister smile and laugh. It didn't quite work, but she tried, the misdirection helped, and we thanked her for that.
Bea's still got some work to do in other areas, but mercy she's fast becoming a smart little girl (again, only three, right?). In fact, nothing tops defining the ultimate toddler giver as what happened one night during the holidays. We had put Beatrice to bed (Bryce was already asleep), and about 10 minutes after that Bea called for Daddy.
I went up and said, "What's the matter, sweetie?"
"Take this," she said, reaching out her hand.
She pushed her hand into mine.
"Is that a booger, Bea?" I asked.
"Yes," she answered, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. She smiled then laughed.
"Thank you, sweetie." Thank you. Really.
From sweet giver to learner of loss -- that's been a fascinating window on what it means to have to say goodbye to those we love. For Beatrice, that means our nanny/babysitter Elyse after two and half years and Nana and Papa after a few days of visiting over the holidays.
Elyse leaving was the biggest blow, but the one-two punch of her moving away and then my parents being in and out really took it's toll on Bea. Watching raw grief spill from a toddler who doesn't fully understand what she's feeling, but understands she doesn't want to say goodbye, cry-howling and red-faced, it's bittersweet for adults who have been there more than once, who've experienced it on more levels than wished to remember. We told her she'll see them all again, but it's no consolation in the moment of grief.
After surviving not quite a Christmas miracle, the lessons of giving and loss have been invaluable, even for an old Daddy who's been there, done that (and will again and again and again).
Happy New Year!