So this week is all about love, right? We’ve got Valentines, we might still be nibbling the chocolates if we’re lucky. I wrote a post marking the good on Monday. But I also want to put up a quick bit about a visible love language, mark it too, if you will. I know there are books on this topic that are all official and researched and backed up with theses and phd’s and whatnot. I haven’t read them and this post is not that. It’s another marker, but personal and specific to our family and this child. It’s one of her sweetest, so it gets it’s own spotlight.
When you bring home a child that is older, you don’t get the time to slowly and naturally lay down tracks and habits that are unique to the two of you. You kind of hit the ground running with a presumptive relationship, but without these small but ever so important stanchions in place. Some of those really important things are the little habits and intimate niceties that you build up over time, typically from babyhood onward. They are the inside the jokes, the significant looks, the nose tap, the habitual note in the lunchbox, the nickname or ‘secret codewords’. They are the tiny mundane actions and anchors of a relationship, of family.
In the intentional attachment effort, you can try to craft these things, and you should, to a degree. But only so much can be done at first, really, so much of it just takes time. Marta has one trait that started out as good manners, I think. Or possibly it was insecurity and/or a needy deference. But nowadays, truly, on a good day, it has become a different thing altogether, it a sweetness, possibly even, ssssh, an act of love or loving feelings (which are just about as good, I’ll take em!).
Specifically, Marta gives. She defers. Not anymore with that uncomfortable submissive twinge of the early months; now it’s from a different spot. For instance, when we are going to pray our daily rosary, she will grab two rosaries and hand me the one that she likes best. Every day. I smile at her and say, “No, that one is good!” pointing to the other, plainer one. She says, “No! This you. This me good.” and she pulls her hand away and/or pushes the prettiest one into my hands. And every time I smile and roll my eyes a little, and then acquiesce, often with a hug. Which makes her grin grow wider.
The reason I know this is different than before is that she has done this for awhile now. I’ve had time to see the change in tone. When she first came home, she might do it with her eyes not connecting, and her face with that tightness. Her stress and connection levels manifest in her body language instantly and irrefutably. She can almost age before your very eyes with the way her emotions play across her body and face. There is a difference, physically visible, between a tense submissive or worried giving and a relaxed loving or playful giving. If you see it, you can peg it in a blink.
Anyhow, not to make too much of all this. But I think, I want, to mark this too. She gives to me, to her dad. Sometimes, on those relaxed days, to her big sister. She gives the prettiest rosary, the ‘best’ or biggest brownie, will scoot her seat on the sofa over a spot. We have to say, “No, no, that’s for you” sometimes. Not always. She’s still a kid. She’s still a moody teen. But more often now, and it’s sweet.
Marta has a verbal language impairment. But happily, her language of love is not impaired even so. She doesn’t need language to communicate when she is relaxed and feeling warmth towards us. She finds the way to show us, we just have to make sure we are looking. I have to make sure I am looking and seeing and marking it down. For both of us.