Special Care has long been a simple but very meaningful term in my home. And, I’ve been thinking about it a lot as age and growth moves forward for all of us.
It began as a way to define a time of uninterrupted attention with my oldest back when she was tiny. It was difficult to get her mind to slow down at night. There were times she would play in her crib for three hours before falling asleep. I look at it now, and I think she inadvertently fell in with the daily chaos of the home. And it was hard to stop that momentum at night, she tried but did it alone for a while. Because I didn’t understand. But the time came where she needed to know when a space of time belonged to her and her only. When I wouldn’t address anything else for the moment. Undivided. And it would become even more important for both of them, once there were two.
Grace had a little purple beanbag in her room. I’d stick all 20 pounds of her in it, turn down her lights and we’d “talk” about the events of the day. This meant me telling her all the things we’d done, in order, while she nodded slowly at each. Engrossed as she recalled each happening from just hours before like it was new again. She would light up at some things, express concern over others. Some she just listened to…and agreed that, yes, they had happened. But this was the start of Special Care. Uninterrupted attention.
It ended up looking a lot of different ways over the years for the sisters. Cuts and bruises meant we’d assess, gather supplies like ice packs and meds and sit together and treat it. Wait it out. Sicknesses meant we would set up a quiet area with favorite stuffies, a movie, cold water, cold rag, tissues. Otherwise unclassified sadness meant we maybe run out somewhere fun together, run a tub with ‘glamour’ and bath supplies and toys, or get a snack and watch a movie where no one else was quote unquote allowed to sit with us or change the channel. It didn’t and doesn’t take much, but making a point of the Special Care always made them feel, for however short a time it was, that they were the only person that mattered. It became such a part of our vernacular that when Joey was really little and someone dared try to draw me out of the Special Care zone, she would definitively shout out, “I’M HAVING SPECIAL CARE RIGHT NOW!😠”…even when we would just be drawing together or some other open ended activity. We’d defined it as such so that’s what we were doing.
The words alone became a sort of invisible wall and distinction between any distraction or responsibility and the uninterrupted attention they didn’t know how to ask for or even know they needed. Things as simple as a walk in the yard have been treated as Special Care during breakdowns and blowups. This one in particular with my youngest, who has always suffered through high levels of anxiety. And it becomes a rescue operation in a sense. It lets her know there is an unassuming escape route from what she’s feeling when I see that she can’t get out of it another way. It helps her to know that I see her. Period. And that that’s all that I see.
Special Care will continue to evolve in our home as the years go by. As their needs change and as their struggles change. As important as it is for adults to feel, even momentarily that we are being taken care of, we often have to accomplish it on our own. Recognize ourselves. Name our own needs. By ourselves. I don’t like to think about my girls ever having to do that. And they will one day. Regardless of who ends up taking my place.
For now, I’m holding on to these important bonding times between us. Through them, these moments have been a personal reward for me and crucial in them understanding their importance and equal value to me. As well as their awareness that they have needs that should be nurtured. It doesn’t take much to make someone you love feel cared for. But I have to make sure to remember I am one of those people, too. And this is one of the greatest ways I remind myself of just that.
Be Well, Friends