“A place for everything and everything in its place” is an apt description of how Kaitlyn goes about her life every day. The picture above is how she decided that her assorted friends would spend the day on her bed this past Sunday. I am sure there was a very rational explanation as to why they were lined up like that, but I didn’t really want to get into it at all.
Kaitlyn has her own unique system for everything she owns, and I know firsthand that it is an exercise in futility to try to understand what is behind it. The one thing I do know is that it is not a good idea to mess with her system.
When I walked in the door this morning after taking one of our cars for an oil change, I saw that Kaitlyn was going through the motions of putting a puzzle together in front of our fireplace. Basically, she was just examining the same piece, oblivious to the world around her. I asked Amber what was wrong, and she gave me somewhat of a clue but said I should hear it from Kaitlyn, so that is exactly what I did. I squatted down and asked her what was bothering her.
“I feel like I am invisible,” she told me with tears in her eyes. I knew there had to be more, and she was quick to offer more details (which is somewhat unusual for her).
Whether it is not hanging out with a friend for a few days, plans with a friend falling through, or simply not getting hardly any chances to be the center of someone’s universe, other than mine and Amber’s, Kaitlyn said she has been feeling more and more invisible lately. I quickly assured her that she is not invisible to us.
Kaitlyn has a self-esteem that is constantly perilously close to being in the gutter. No matter how much Amber and I try to boost it, she only lets us build her up so much. For her, and for us, it is really difficult to dance back-and-forth between us being the discipline police and not being the discipline police; at best, it is confusing for Kaitlyn because she thrives when things stay relatively the same.
Some of her sense of being invisible comes from how much she invests in planning things with her friends. When plans fall apart at the last minute, she is devastated and thinks it is because of something she said or did. Nothing could be further from the truth, and getting her to understand that is a constant challenge.
Some of her sense of being invisible comes, at least partially, from seeing some of the benefits her other friends have in having family living close by. She sees a friend going out to dinner with an aunt or uncle, or sees a friend’s grandparents pick them up from school, or hears stories of a friend spending the weekend at their grandparents’ house, and she naturally becomes envious and naturally understands that she does not have those things. We try our best to explain that we live where we do because we feel that this is the best place for her, and that it would not be fair of us to ask or expect people to uproot their lives to live near us, but she has a lot of trouble understanding our logic. She will sometimes ask us if she is the reason why we don’t have any family close, and we assure her that she is not the reason. We have done our best to surround her with people who do treat her like family, like her “big sister,” and we are appreciative of every one of them, but Amber and I both know that Kaitlyn longs for even more.
The best Amber and I can do is to continue what we have been doing. We build her up all the time by reinforcing everything good she does (although apparently a hug from me is not a good enough reward for her having a great week of school. It’s cool though.), while also making sure that she learns from her mistakes. We try to get her as involved as possible in activities outside school, but we will not push her into doing something that will make her miserable, so we have had to make concerted efforts to ensure she has at least one friend doing the same activity so she is not left out. Most of all, we continue to make sure that she knows that we love her and that she will always be able to count on us, even though she doesn’t get that chance to miss us at all. Lifting the cloak of invisibility off of her will be a lifelong effort for Amber and I, but it is one that we are more than happy to tackle.
Lest you get the wrong impression, just because Amber and I do not go out of our way to celebrate Valentine’s Day does not mean that we are not teaching Kaitlyn about love. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
This past Monday, I had the privilege of being able to have lunch with Kaitlyn at her school. As I usually do when I have lunch with her, I head toward her classroom a few minutes early so I can take a peek at whatever project the class completed that is adorning the wall outside the door. Not surprisingly, Valentine’s Day was still the prominent theme. Each student in the class had created a heart that showed what they view love is. I have shared the picture on here as well, but here is the text:
“Love is…an open door to courage. Love means having patience, being kind, respectful, and knowing the true value of friendship. It even means kissing and smooching and hugging. You need to apologize after you did something wrong to show love them. On Valentine’s Day, you give out cards to show you love them.”
I’d say that Amber and I are doing a pretty good job in teaching Kaitlyn about love, don’t you think?
Amber and I don’t do anything special for each other for Valentine’s Day. We never have because we really don’t think there is any reason why a random day in February should stand out from the rest as far as how we treat each other and how we feel about each other.
Kaitlyn, on the other hand, has been looking forward to today for a few weeks now. She made her own Valentine’s for her classmates, and has been itching to take them to school for at least two weeks. For her, the appeal of today is that she can do something nice for her friends and make them feel special. That is just how she is.
Just because Amber and I choose not to make a big deal out of the day, we also have no intention of dampening Kaitlyn’s spirit about the day, and we have also gotten her a little something every year. It’s like we are trying to be good parents or something.
In keeping with what has captured her attention for the last few months, our present to her was an easy decision. We decided to add to Kaitlyn’s American Girl collection. We aren’t crazy enough to have added a doll to her collection (but that is coming soon if she gets her AR percentage up since she has passed the 100 point mark that we set for her to get a new doll), so we got her another pet from the collection. Joining “Licorice” and “Honey” will be “Pepper.” Kaitlyn will be happy to add to her collection of pets.
There has been a new and interesting development when it comes to the TV programming in our house. It seems as if Kaitlyn has taken a liking to a show that has been off the air for about 40 years now.
It all started about two weeks or so ago, when there was nothing on. Amber noticed that there was an episode on, so she turned on that particular channel. Kaitlyn was hooked immediately.
Even over this past weekend, with a generous selection of programs to watch, Kaitlyn chose to watch The Brady Bunch when it was on. Monday before school, she had me searching the channel guide to see if there were any episodes on that we could DVR so she could watch them after school.
She may be about 40 years late to the party, but it is nice to see Kaitlyn enjoying a program that is as tame as The Brady Bunch.