In some ways my third child is the toughest little girl I know. She has been through so much, how could she not be one tough girl? There were days in the hospital that she would be in so much pain. She would look in my eyes and my tears would begin. Quiet tears running down my face, because I knew how much my daughter was suffering. I would hold her hands and sing her songs, sometimes the song would bring her heart rate down and I could watch the effect I had on my sweet daughter. She went through withdrawal while in the hospital and had one terrible Thanksgiving weekend where the pain was so visible in her tiny, shaky one-month-old body.
When she came home there were still days where she barely moved she was so weak. And when she got RSV, pneumonia, and an ear infection all at the same time, you could hardly tell, which is why it got so bad that we ended up taking an ambulance from the doctor's office to the hospital. I had no idea she was so sick, but the decline happened before our eyes and scared her doctor and me into calling for the ambulance.
For the first two-and-a-half years I had to give her shots twice a day and she would barely flinch. Her strength was a blessing and a curse, I was so glad that she fought so hard and I am proud of how strong she is, but I am sad that it has to be that way. So often it broke my heart to see her have to stare down pain when she should be learning to roll over or crawl or coo. I watch her strength and it makes me want to be stronger, drives me to be stronger. As I run I think about the things she fights through, the things she may or may not be able to do. Do I take my strength for granted? My body does what I tell it to, usually with little pain involved.
But then there are her little feelings; I am so afraid for the future of those feelings. Sensitivity is such a double edged sword. While I know she would never intentionally hurt anyone, the hurt feelings are tough to take. And her feelings get hurt more than others. How can this tough little girl be so soft hearted? She is this sweet little girl who is devastated by being told no. When she gets hurt, she is more upset by the fact that someone would hurt her than the actual pain. She has a very distinct "hurt feelings" cry, as if her heart, that same heart that endured being cut into time and again, has broken.
The worst part of this sensitivity is our knowledge of what's to come. Unfortunately, kids can be mean. For that matter, adults can be mean. I was reading an etiquette column the other day and I was surprised by how old-fashioned the advice seemed, how refreshingly old-fashioned; the advice to think first, to hold your tongue, to err on the side of respectful. But that isn't always the case, sometimes people don't think first. Sometimes I get teary when I think of the things she may hear or see, the way she may be treated and the way that will make her feel. Will the safe comfort of home be enough to keep others from breaking her spirit? If I tell her over and over how wonderful she is, will it be enough to make her know it? Will it be enough for her to keep her kindness without bruising her sensitivity?