Friday, August 24, 2007

The sensitive type

I've been clocking an uncharacteristic amount of overtime lately at work. We're short on staff right now and everyone is sharing the load, with as little grumbling as possible. Since I'm on the clock (which was a shock to my ego at first, but less so as I learned the Corporation's culture...lots of people higher on the ladder than I are also on the clock), my paychecks have increased over the past few weeks, and since I'm a true Taurus, that's enough incentive for me to grumble very little about this state of affairs.

My children, however, especially the female one who is looking puberty right in the eye, know nothing of paychecks and time-and-a-half and the cost of furniture and electricity and house payments. They are not pleased with this state of affairs. Not one little bit.

Add to two twelve-hour days (which see me return home at their bedtime) an evening meeting at church, and you've got a grouchy daughter.

Susie has always been physically affectionate, almost too much. When she was a toddler, she fell asleep in her bed with me next to her, she clutching my arm, teddy-bear style. If I tried to remove my arm from her grasp, she would say, "I want yours arm." Insistently. And I gave it back. She's a very tactile child, and still loves nothing more than rubbing the top of my arm with the back of her hand. Her pleasure is doubled if my skin is cool. Over the years, I've tried, unsuccessfully, to cure her of this habit that sometimes seems like a compulsion. We've tried silky blankets, stuffed animals, even real animals. But my arm (and her father's arm, and her brother's arm) is the most attractive thing in the world to her. When she rubs, she often sucks her tongue, which tells me that she's returning to an infant-like state of mind when she does this. (She rubbed my arm when she nursed as a baby.)

The thing with me working so much is that she's not getting the amount and type of love she needs from me. She needs at least twenty minutes a day of close physical contact. And for the past few weeks, she hasn't gotten this, at least not on a daily basis, from me.

On Wednesday morning, as I was leaving for work (I leave about half an hour before they leave for school), I reminded the kids that I was working late and would see them at bedtime. I also mentioned that I had a meeting on Thursday. The poor girl crumpled. I quickly tried to save the moment by telling her that I would be all hers on Friday evening, but that was too far away for it to be any consolation.

Much as the arm rubbing irritates me, I know that it soothes her. I know that she's riding increasingly choppy waves, physically, mentally, socially. And if a little bit of cool skin caressed by the back of her hand feels like a life raft, I need to let her have that.

And hopefully, even though I like the extra money, this stretch of overtime is finite.


Noodle said...

I have one of those children too, who truly needs that kind of time from me. I empathize.

Hot Librarian said...

I feel your pain too... daily I question if the money I'm making is worth the extra work I'm doing. I hope your and your sweet girl can get some quality mother-daughter time in soon!

MonkeysMama said...

It's great to meet another mom of an arm-rubber. Monkey has been this way since he was a wee thing. He thing is patting my arm and rolling my skin inbetween his fingers. He falls asleep like this every night, and does it when he's tired or stressed. I figure, like it, it won't last forever, and it's some special time he and I have :)

Amy said...

OMG, I have a 3 year old son who is enthralled with my arms, too, and I truly thought I was alone in this obsessed behavior! Unfortunately, with him, the arm business is mine, no one else's will do. I was really hoping he'd outgrow it soon, but it doesn't sound like it!

slouching mom said...

I think that's quite amazing, really -- that she has a way of comforting herself that's so clear and, generally, easy to come by.

I hope the work crunch comes to an end soon.

Wendi said...

Zoe has started doing the same rubby-touchy thing. It seems like it started earlier with Suzie, but I've just noticed it big time with mine this year. My new working situation doesn't help much either. The kids don't complain much, but it's killing me!

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