This is a shout out to my daughter, Andrea Grace Freeman. Pictured here is Pirate Patty. Also pictured are my granddaughter, Violet, and me. You can see that we really like each other. Yesterday while I was trying to engage with Violet on FaceTime, I pulled out Pirate Patty who is a friend of Violet’s. In contrast to the effect I hoped to have, Violet burst into tears and said she wanted the doll right this minute and she just started to weep in a way that was not the usual “I want it now” kind of crying. It was a soulful, teary breakdown. Her mom appeared and leaned her head against Violet’s and said, “Oh, you miss your Nana, don’t you.” Violet wailed, “I want to go to Nana’s house.” It was hard to tell who was sadder – Violet or me. And what really touched me was the way that Andrea, who tries to use my visits with Violet to catch up on the very demanding job she is trying to do at home, quickly sensed that this crying wasn’t just annoyance and quickly provided what professionals call “co-regulation.” She simply connected physically in a comforting way and with a soothing voice acknowledged her overwhelmed daughter’s emotions. Violet’s distress escalated for a few moments – even I was beginning to feel hopeless – and then she started to calm down. Mom walked with Violet to her room to find her other mermaid doll and we proceeded to have a good 10 minutes of fun and laughter with mermaid sisters being silly with each other. When I told my husband the story, he said Andrea has that “third eye” – being able to tune into the feelings under the feelings. It is probably our biggest challenge during these difficult times to be able to acknowledge our own distress and manage it enough to tune into the emotions of our children…and bring presence, acceptance and soothing to their difficulties. I guess this is a shout out to all the moms and dads who are juggling new challenges and attuning to their little ones at the same time. Thank you. Thank you.
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