Saturday, November 17, 2007

Warming up

One thing I really enjoyed about my mother's visit this time is that K has started showing real affection for her. K was calling her "Gramma," giving her kisses and in one particularly sweet move, put some pillows on a chair in the dining room for her as she was slowly walking in. And I'm sure that was what K intended, because when I pulled out a different chair and told her that it was the chair Grammie was sitting in, she moved the pillows over. Sooo incredibly sweet.

I've always felt so badly for mother that she couldn't interact with K the way her other grandparents do, and have been wracking my brain for ways to help them bond when my mother can't do anything physical with her. The simple fact is that most of the bonding that goes on with a very young child is through either 1), physically caring for them, or 2), playing with them, which is usually also pretty physical. Mom can read her books and talk to her, but that's about it. She's given K some rides on her lap, but K never seems hugely comfortable with that (although she'd probably be more open to it now) and I'm not thrilled with how precarious it seems. The last time I was really comfortable with my mother holding K without someone else right there to catch her was when she was two weeks old and weighed 9 pounds. Ever since then, she's been too big and too wiggly for me to be really sanguine with her in my mother's uncertain grip.

An additional barrier is the wheelchair itself. It's electric and much higher off the ground than a manual wheelchair. It's part of why I worried when K is sitting on her lap - it's much farther to fall than normal, and there are various metal parts to hit on the way down. But it also prevents K from being able to go up and interact, because she's just too short.

I want K to have a close relationship with both of her grandmothers. And I know how hard it is for my mother not to be able to take care of her grandchild. In a couple years it will be easier, because once K is old enough to perform basic self-care and can be relied on to obey spoken orders, my mother will be able to babysit and take her out without us. But it's hard right now, to see the difference between how K greets B's parents and my mother. I don't begrudge her relationship with B's parents for a second; I just want it for my mother too.

So it was really nice this visit, seeing her warm up to my mother so visibly. I think it helped that we couldn't get the electric wheelchair into the house, so Mom had to walk up the steps (with heavy support) and sit on the couch. It made her a lot more accessible, and she could do things like participate in games of catch with the beachball by kicking it, or let K march the dinosaurs she gave her across her lapboard. Hopefully this trend will continue at Christmas.

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