Finding the funny in parenthood before somebody loses an eye...

Monday, February 7, 2011

For the Love of a Sloth

The twins just got an assignment on "camouflage" for school.

They are beyond excited.  Especially because they remember when their big sister got this assignment and we built an igloo out of sugar cubes for her Polar Bear diorama (for the record...never use a hot glue gun on sugar cubes.  3 igloos later, had success with royal icing...).

Ben wants to do a Polar bear just like his sister.  (especially now that he knows I've resolved the igloo issue).  He's looking forward to the sugar high that comes with igloo building.

Livi wants to make a diorama of a Sloth.

Yes.  A Sloth.  Livi loves Sloths.

I had actually come so close to writing about this once before.  I had the whole post written in fact.  But for some reason or another I didn't get around to posting it.  THEN, it just felt outdated and THEN I felt like it was "lying" posting a story like it just happened, when it was months ago. 

So my tale of what Sloths mean to me and Livi went untold.

But NOW I have a reason to address the subject of sloths once again, and I want to share a REALLY special story to me.  One I'll always remember.  And I am so glad I have a reason to finally share it...

* * * * * * * * * * *

"Tears of Joy"

Livi cried today.  But not for the usual reasons.  I gave her a Sloth.  A stuffed, two-toed Sloth.

If you ask Livi her favorite animal, she'll tell you.  First, it's a monkey.  Then...a Sloth.
She's no ordinary girl.  That's for sure.

So today when I came across the Sloth stuffed animal I HAD to get it for her.  I'd never even SEEN a Sloth stuffed animal.  Who even knew they MADE a stuffed Sloth?

I've been having a hard time with Livi.  For YEARS I've been having a hard time with Livi!  I can't tell you when it started.  I remember this juicy, strong-willed ball of tastiness I used to call my "party favor" and couldn't even begin to tell you where it began to fly off-course.  Maybe after the divorce?  Maybe before?  All I know is that the past few years, every day is a battle.  Every night is a trial.  Whining, screaming, frustration that bubbles up in the form of "tics" and leaves her touching objects over and over and talking to herself.  It's been horrible.  Sometimes we get these fabulous glimpses of the girl trapped inside, but these can be rare and few between.  

When I picked her up from day camp I said "I have a treat for you in the car.  It's special for sleepaway  camp (she and Ben are going to mini sleepaway camp for 3 days) but I think you can have it now."

"I can??!    Can I open it now?  What is it?"

"You'll have to wait and see."  She skipped behind me all the way to the car.

I took it out of the bag and held it behind my back.

I said "Okay, Livi.  I hope I did this right.  But once you told me your TWO favorite animals.  Do you remember what they are?  Do you remember what you told me?"

"A Monkey?"

"Yeah? And a..."

"...and a..." she seemed unsure..."a seal?"

I thought.  Crap.  She didn't really give a shit about Sloths.  She had just said it to be "interesting."  Livi likes to say things to be "interesting."  Then she tells you later she didn't really mean it.  This was going to be one of those times...just watch...

"Okay?  Anything else that starts with an "S"?"

" Sloth?"


I took the little stuffed Sloth and danced it around in front of her eyes.

They sparkled and her eyes lit up like I had NEVER seen.

"You got me A SLLOOOOOOOOOOOTTTH!!!!!"  Tears burst from her eyes and she started wailing.  She put her arms around me and was seriously heaving while she was crying.  She hugged me with one arm and clung to the Sloth with the other.  She buried her wet face in my pants legs..

I don't think I've ever experienced this kind of reaction from her.  Feeling like I had 1000% done the right thing.

And in that moment, through her happy tears, I "saw" her.

I felt her frustration through her relief.  I could feel how she was exhausted from reaching out to me - hoping to show me just who "Livi" was.  Hoping I'd hear her.  And the Sloth was evidence that I had.  I felt her barriers momentarily melt away.  I felt how relieved she was to feel understood.  How happy she was to feel loved.  How I had truly pleased her to her very core.  The gift of the Sloth had touched her soul.

It was beautiful.  And kind of painful.  I was hurting for her.  It was so sad that it took this particular gesture for her to understand how much I love her and to see that I wanted to make her happy.

Giving her this Sloth was obviously the most important and wonderful thing I could have ever done for her.

I know that the next time I give her something, I am sure I won't get this reaction.  And that's okay.

But I hope she'll remember the day I gave her a Sloth.  I always will.

(NOTE: This past summer Livi was diagnosed with the early stages of an anxiety disorder - OCD - or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  She's getting help and doing well.  Sloth is still her favorite stuffed animal...)

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