Thursday, November 11, 2010

Coping with Life

My 6 year old granddaughter always wore her tender heart on her sleeve, wanting to be cuddled and to cuddle; who literally stroked people with fondness; whose eyes would well up with tears at any unkindness, even if it were not directed at her.
Irresistible in her transparent love and care for everyone.

Well, not irresistible to quite everyone.
She often took a hammering from her siblings - 
Young peers do not always take kindly to such vulnerability. In fact can find it annoying and cloying.
And a wonderful target!

Recently her mom, DD2, told me that this child and her 9 year old sibling were getting along way better than before because
"She has toughened up a lot, mom. She stands up for herself and fights back now"

Part of me was so happy for the child: because she did go through a lot of heartache
But another part of me wanted to break down and weep
That such sweetness had to be laid aside, hidden away -
And that she, at 6, had learned that this is necessary for emotional survival on this beautiful, sad planet!
Maybe, no - certainly, we have all done this to some degree: it is just more evident in her.

She has had to learn behaviour that is unnatural to her; learn to violate her own gentle and caring nature in order to "fit"
In order not to be emotionally broken before she reaches double figures.
In fact, she has had to manufacture a persona to hide behind.

I have quite a lot to do with young women -
These women are functioning well but many of them have become aware that there is a 'trueness' lost. And a desire to find that again.
So many of them are trying to surface their real selves that they have buried just to cope with people, with life.
I believe this is true of most of us.

To see this 6 year old putting these coping mechanisms into place at the one end of the process
Against the backdrop of these women's efforts to reverse it, is an emotional thing for me.
I wish she didn't have to do it:
I know she has to.
May she learn how to guard her heart without hardening it.


Lynette said...
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Angela said...

I can so relate to this. Me with two older brothers, you can imagine! When they were cruel (just fun, they said) to me and I cried, they said I was just too delicate. So I also learned to harden. But you are right, the older I get the more I unwind, and I am much happier now. I also wish I could help young people (boys as well) to find a path in-between.

Ness said...

I don't think it's a mask, so much as a suit of armour - which in it's day was a protective mechanism, and there is no harm in that, plus, at best it's an article of clothing, easily discarded amongst loved ones.

allie said...

@ Lynette - I think everyone has to do it for survival actually.
It just hit me hard because I'm seeing it so 'in your face' in someone so dear to me - and also because I'm seeing the difficulty that can happen later

@ Angela - Yes, having 2 older bru's would certainly speed up the process!
You seem to be one of the people who can unwind quite easily and find yrself. Fantastic!
It would be wonderful to help youngsters but what could one say?
We cannot make the world a gentler place.
Only learn to be gentler ourselves.

@ Ness - yes it has its plusses but its not always that simple Ness.
I only wish it were.

Simply-Mel said...

:-( And here I thought it was a good thing.

Unfortunately we live in the real world and we cant all be PHoebe Buffet.

I trust that what she is doing isnt a mask but simply maturing into a youngster that cannot be manipulated. Someone that feels deeply, is easily moved, sensitve but will not be taken advantage of.

I do believe there is a balance and as a parent (and a sibling!) one can only hope to raise well-adjusted kids.

But I totally hear what you are saying and I see the dangers/potential damage.

allie said...

Ah Mel - you know me!
I see something that triggers a line of thought.
And then cannot resist philosophising about it :-)

This is not about parenting - you know I think you do a fantastic job -Its rather a lament over what is necessary to adjust to life in the big world.

Simply-Mel said...

i totally get that! Totally. :-)

and its profound.

Trix's Mix said...

You make me look forward to having granchildren Allie!

Gill said...

This post really struck a cord with me - I feel the EXACT same way about my Paula. It's so sad that these gentle, sensitive girls have to change in order to cope with the tough world we live in.

I always think Paula would have fitted in better in Victorian England than hair-raising South Africa! Probably why she has such a thing for films like Sense and Sensibility ;-)