Posted on Tuesday, December 2, 2008
in Family, Philosophy
Puppychild is going through a phase of trying to understand love.
Last month she loved everything. I love bath, I love spider, I love squishy… now she’s growing cynical and is realising that not everything is deserving of her love, so she questions me about it. A lot.
“Mommy, do you love Daddy?” she’d ask.
“Yes I love Daddy. Do you love Daddy?”
“Yeah I love Daddy. Do you love Wouldye?”
“Yes I love Wouldye. Do you love Wouldye?”… and so on. We go through everybody in the family, but the same thing always happens when we come to Laughingboy; flat denial of any feelings whatsoever.
“But he’s your brother!” I’d implore. “Don’t you love your brother?”
I don’t push it or ask why, because I don’t want to cause a nasty complex, and besides – I kind of understand how she feels. Puppychild has no maternal bond. She has a brother who doesn’t play with her, who doesn’t talk to her or push her around. He’s boring, and more often than not, insists on shouting or crying loudly over her favourite films. He takes up valuable Mommy time that could be spent painting pictures or horsing around, and for all this sacrifice, there’s little or no return.
I went through a strange phase like that.
Children return love. They give you sticky kisses and violent hugs. Dogs return love by licking and tail-wagging. Even cats can return affection if they’re grateful enough, but Laughingboy was always quite the opposite. For all the time I spent caring for him, there was no reward… no ‘thank you’, no kisses, no ‘I love you Mommy’. This in itself is a very difficult thing to get used to.
Thing is, I’m grown up now and I understand that enough love – visible or not – can conquer anything, but I don’t have to face schoolkids. I don’t have to defend myself when they find out my brother is broken, and either tease me unmercifully or tell me I’m the sister of a retard. I never had to face something that tough as a kid.
How can I teach my little girl how to love her brother? What will be her reward when she loyally defends her family against an onslaught of verbal abuse and teasing? Laughingboy will never deserve an ounce of resentment but I can feel it growing already, helpless to do anything but lead by example, and perhaps introduce her to Nirvana a little earlier than planned.
The future scares me sometimes.