Between my girls, Jamie has always been the more timid one of the two. She’s more conscious, less adventurous, and she’s easily frightened with loud noises, large crowds or dark empty rooms. The latter is funny to my husband, because he has stories of his toddler years in their first house, when he had to run across a dark hallway alone to get to the other side. He felt like it took 500 quick (toddler) steps, which is tantamount to forever when one is small and scared. In an effort to better understand Jamie, I asked him to explain to me what was going through his head at the time. Of course, he didn’t remember — but it’s safe to say Jamie inherited this gene from him. 😉
When we hit the basement area of our apartment, she immediately scrambles up my leg because from inside she can hear the revving of the motorcycles echo. In the movie houses she buries her face in my chest at the sound of scary music. Jamie needs her “security Bunny” by her side all the time wherever she goes and freaks out when she leaves Bunny. She’s intimidated by lots of people and large crowds, but at the same time is also too afraid to be left alone in a fully lit or dark room. She’s that type of girl, and for the last twenty nine months I’ve just tried my best to adjust and work around it.
Then two nights ago, Sam, Jamie and I were in our bedroom in the middle of our bedtime story, when Jamie sat up and realized her Baby Doll was not in the room.
“She must be sleeping in the playroom tonight then” I said, too tired to get up.
“Mom please go get her,” pleaded my timid little girl.
Quite honestly… I could have. And probably if it happened a few days before, I wouldn’t have questioned the request. I would’ve (begrudgingly) gotten up from my comfy spot and made the trek across the dining area, the living area and into the playroom that was at the exact opposite end from the bedroom to look for this plastic doll.
But for one reason or the other I didn’t want to. And so I told Jamie, if she really wanted her Doll, she had to go get it. She looked forlorn, but surprisngly said “Okay”, and got up from her spot.
I had to get up too and open the door for her because she couldn’t reach it. Since I was there, Jamie tugged at me to go with her because it was dark. I saw our nanny was watching TV so there was a glimmer of light, and I told her it wasn’t dark, and that she could do it. I didn’t want to give in, just because I wasn’t on the bed anymore.
So Jamie took a breath and with her tiny feet, made quick sharp steps from one end of the hall to the next. She made a left towards the playroom, and it was only then when she started to cry, “IT’S DARK! Waaaaaaaaahhhh!!!!” (The nanny, surprised we were out of our room, also turned off the TV so it WAS quite dark).
I went to the corner of the hallway and coaxed Jamie onwards. “Jamie, turn on the light. You can reach it. Come on, you can do it brave girl.” Thank God for the Kidswitch (if you don’t have them, get some in your home now!).
I saw the light go on. I heard the crying stop and then there was some shuffling. The nanny made a motion to go to the room and help but I stopped her. Some toys were getting thrown around. Minutes later, I caught Jamie on her way back holding her precious Baby Doll in hand. She passed me in the hallway, glanced at me and quickly made her 500+ steps back into the room.
When we closed the door I gave her a hug and congratulated her because she was able to do it all by herself. She seemed quite pleased and relieved, and then a wave of worry washed back over her when she realized Baby Doll wasn’t dressed. “Mom, her dress is in the playroom.” She whined.
So I told her she could go back and get it. This time before she exited the bedroom, I opened the hallway light just to ensure that our nanny wouldn’t close the TV on her and leave her in complete darkness again.
Jamie whined all the way there, and all the way back, but she completed the process all on her own (I followed of course but kept a distance and made sure she didn’t know I was there). When she got back with the dress, she ran straight into my arms her face all tear-stained. I gave her the biggest hugs. “You did it! You see! I knew you could do it! You’re so brave Jamie!” She nodded with a half smile, still processing what had just happened.
When Sam went to bed I lay on the pillow nose to nose with Jamie, talking about her day like we normally do. Then she got quiet. I thought she was asleep but then she whispered, “Mom? I was scared. But I was also a brave girl.”
I wanted to cry!!!!!
It’s so easy to mistake Jamie as a tiny timid child because of her size and her demeanor. The way she talks, thinks and processes things though is that of an older child. You’d never guess she was just twenty-eight months old. Obviously, tonight’s 500 steps was a big ordeal for us both. But it was also a big accomplishment for her. We both learned something new tonight about ourselves and so all the more I’m glad I did it.
I now have two Brave (big) little girls. 🙂