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Unfortunately MY child

Last Saturday we were helping a friend move, necessitating a rather urban car ride into the city. As soon as we entered the tunnel Harvey started panicking. "I don't like it! I don't LIKE it!"
"What don't you like sweetie?"
"Dis!" he screams. "In here! I want to go OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUT!"

And really, I can't blame him. I have no way to tell him it's going to be okay, you won't die in a cold dark tunnel, when every fabric of my being is also screaming "I WANT TO GO OOOOOOOOOOOUT!"

Harvey tends, you see, to be rather anxious. I know where he gets it from.

But let me give you another example. Last week Dan came home from a half day at work. I didn't know exactly what time to expect him, and I was upstairs putting Harvey down for a nap when he came in quietly. So when I walked down the stairs moments later and saw a person coming around the corner inside our house I startled and gasped and put my hand over my heart.

Now, Dan really hates it when I do this, when I act like he's a murderer in his own house. And that seems pretty fair to me. I always try to apologize rather profusely and swear up and down that One Day I will exorcise all my demons and be rid of this terrible stranger complex.

Except then half an hour later Harvey was awake and standing on a chair in the kitchen when Dan came up from behind and put his hands on Harvey's shoulders. Immediately Harvey pulled his hands in as if to curl up into a ball and his whole body started shaking.

When he isn't so personally offended, Dan just looks at the two of us and sighs exasperatedly, "My goodness you guys."

I has helped my parenting recently to think of Harvey as a toddler version of myself. He's anxious and shy. He desperately wants to be in control and desperately wants to be loved at the same time. Being a toddler, he hides all of this slightly more poorly than I do. So when I get irritated that he's demanding SO MUCH of me every second of the day, I just think to myself "mini me" and out spring buds of compassion. When I'm trying to project my authority by throwing him in his bed every time he hits the dog, I remember "mini me" and find a way to help him save face and get love without "backing down." And when he says "I neeeeeed uppy, mama" or "I want to go hooooooome" I muster all the courage I have to say No, despite how much I want to say Yes, because he is me, and we both need to accept that the world is a safe place and that being scared sometimes is okay.

Zion, on the other hand, wakes in the bed and looks about at his surroundings with wide open eyes. "What is this wonderful place?" he thinks. I and have hope for the future that we also have a child version of Dan.

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