Making a kid feel loved, safe, secure, and accepted takes time. It certainly doesn’t happen overnight but that doesn’t mean that it has to take years either.
My daughter recently went into labor with twins (OMG I’m going to be a grandpa). When she called me saying it was time for her to go to the hospital, we made the decision to load up our 12 year old foster daughter who had only just moved in a month ago. Being a snow day at her school with no one else to stay with, she would have to come along for this huge family moment.
As we arrive to the emergency room, the nurses helped us get situated into a room where my daughter’s vitals could be taken. The medical staff wanted to make sure that the contractions were real and that she was dilating.
The nurses and doctors came into the room asking my pregnant – and very uncomfortable – daughter, “Who are these lovely people?”
“My dad, and my sister,” my daughter grunted back.
Seated between both of them, I peek over at my excited 12 year old. She is showing the biggest smile that I’ve ever seen and it was because, with that small statement, her label had been removed. It was the first time that someone from our family had introduced her to a complete stranger as a sibling.
…With that small statement, her label had been removed.
The doctor said to me, “You have two beautiful daughters. I can see a strong family resemblance.” I looked at both of my daughters and they both smiled wide.
A contraction set in and the pain on my daughters face is clearly visible. My 12 year old is watching me console my daughter while visualizing one of the most intimate miracles known to man. The medical staff hook my daughter to monitors enabling them to see the twin’s movements and hear the heartbeats. As the sound comes over the small speakers, my 12 year old looked at me, eyes wide with excitement, gasping about how cool this all was.
Another contraction hits; this one more intense than the last. My 12 year old looked in awe as the doctor hooked up an IV into my wincing daughter’s arm.
The 12 year old chirps “Uhhh…does that hurt?” My daughter, (in good spirits) says “It doesn’t feel good that’s for sure.” Without missing a beat, I look at my 12 year old daughter seriously and say, “see sweetie, that’s what happens when you kiss boys.” In the tense moment, everyone is happy for a reason to laugh.
My 12 year old daughter and I bonded that day. I was intentional in teaching my older daughter to accept everyone in our family and she remembered to do it even during her own greatest time of need. It doesn’t get any more real than that.
That day, both of my daughters felt loved, safe, secure, and accepted.
One daughter has always felt it, and one will feel it from now on.