She’s scared of the vacuum cleaner. And usually I’m in such a rush to get things done, get everything done, that I simply rush around the rug singing and grinning and hoovering as she sits wailing in her playpen. That first shudder of shock, when she almost jumps in the air with fright, is somewhat heartbreaking, but I sing and grin and Get Things Done.
Today I took time to acclimatise my girl to her nemesis. I slowly took the hoover out of the cupboard and showed it to Leila. As usual she whimpered the minute she saw its imposing grey mass (to be fair, in addition to emitting an almight roar, it is also about five times her size, so I can hardly blame her for wincing at the sight of it). So I plucked her from her enclosure and we sat on the floor by the hoover for at least fifteen minutes. At first she was visibly shrinking from it. I patted it and stroked and even (oh god) kissed it. “It’s just the hoover, darling”, I told her over and over.
She started to smile, warily, her eyes still fearful. When I took my hand away from the hoover, she patted my hand to tell me “do it again, mummy, show me it’s ok” and I would go back to stroking it’s plastic form. Eventually, her little hand hovered tentatively over the machine. She patted it, once, twice, looking at me for reassurance. Then we patted it together, and she laughed. I picked her up to show her that she could be bigger than the hoover, and she, grimacing with nerves, touched the top of it.
Dude. It melted my heart. The realisation that this tiny little person trusts in me so absolutely, to guide her and tell her when something is scary or nice or right or wrong, to back her up and give her the courage to face her fears. At the moment her fears are simple- a hoover can’t harm her- but I hope I can always play this role in her life. I must remember to sometimes forget about the Things which need Doing, and take the time to guide her. And oh god, her little face as she looked at me: “is it ok? Can I do this?”. Just, dude.
She still jumped out of her skin when I switched the hoover on, and cried for a minute or so. But this time I was holding her close and showing her that this scary thing would be alright, whispering (well, yelling- that thing is loud) reassurances right into her ear. I need to always be right there for her, whispering/yelling reassurances into her ear, when and if she needs me to. I mustn’t forget to do that. I must always honour her trust.