Further Implications of the Daddy under the Couch Cushion

In my last post, I told you about May’s brief but delightful search for her beloved daddy under the couch cushion. And why not, when she has a grandma who searches for her in the unlikeliest places?

But a lifelong friend and literacy specialist to whom I tell this story has another take on it. Social intelligence, yes, but what a high level of transference and abstract thinking appears to be happening here!


May can’t possibly articulate this, but she appears to be thinking, “Since Grandma looks for me in places where I can’t possibly be, I’m going to look for another person in another place, one where he can’t possibly be.”

We may never know whether this is what’s really happening, or whether May just associates me with looking for people, but we do know that she’s a fascinating and charming little lady–and that we’re honored to have her in our family.

“. . . . I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me. Everything you do is marvelous! Of this I have no doubt.”  Psalm 139:14 (CEV)


The Daddy under the Couch Cushion

Two-year-old May is happy to see me at the front door. “Where Daddy go?” she asks, running into the living room and checking under the sofa cushion for her six-foot tall daddy.


Why exactly does she do this?

Because I have an honorable, albeit unspoken title: The Grandma of the Ridiculous.

Lisa makes the cutest video ever of May helping me search for May under the picnic table. Together we peer under the table, crawl through the grass . . . .

In the living room I look for her under the coffee table. (Ouch!) Or could she be in the dinosaur book perhaps? Let’s try the Cretaceous Period.

I am also the Block Grandma, having brought May a set of large, colorful blocks borrowed from Tina.

May has her queendom of loving grown-ups nicely categorized. Her parents’ friend Emma, for example, is the Blanket Tug-of-War Lady, and Auntie Maria is the Head Bump Duchess.

Mommy is, in addition to many other honorable roles, the “Aww!” Person. (The two stroke each other’s hair and say “Aww!”)

Daddy is simply the King of Hearts.

May’s social skills are something else. We’re thinking she has high social intelligence.

According to Psychology Today,

The socially intelligent person knows how to play different social roles – allowing him or her to feel comfortable with all types of people. As a result, the SI individual feels socially self-confident and effective – what psychologists call “social self-efficacy.”

When Lisa and George first met May last summer, Lisa was impressed with the little girl’s confidence. May was a bit shy, naturally, but unafraid. Her foster mom had taught her that the world is a very good place indeed for a little girl.


Again from Psychology Today,

Intelligence, or IQ, is largely what you are born with. Genetics play a large part. Social intelligence (SI), on the other hand, is mostly learned. SI develops from experience with people and learning from success and failures in social settings.

I will always be thankful for the doctor who, when she saw that May was failing to thrive as an infant, diagnosed the problem. The surgeon called Social Services with a request that May be visited six to seven hours a day, seven days a week. Social Services responded with Tricia. The nurses lifted May, tubes and all, from her incubator onto Tricia’s lap, where she spent hours listening to Tricia sing and talk to her. And she thrived.

And now I’m thankful for May’s forever family–loving, kind and absolutely ready for the toddler.

Is there a challenge here for me? I’m neither a surgeon, nor a foster mom, nor an adoptive mom–but can I be readier to see a need and step up when someone is “failing to thrive”?

A Cuppa Tea from a Two-Year-Old

Is that the beginnings of a look of alarm I see out of the corner of my eye?


I have suggested to May that one of her four grandmas (she’s just met this one) would like a cup of tea. Perhaps she imagines the toddler careening down her parents’ steps with a steaming beverage–until May pours her a pretend cup of tea from her little plastic watering can. Grandma drinks it with gusto–and, we suspect, more than a little relief!

Like every responsible foster mom, Tricia has taught May social graces. Not only was the little girl pouring tea long before the ripe old age of two, she was learning to share toys and be gentle with animals and babies.

girl and kitten


Ear-Splitting Shrieks


So what garners Lisa a blinding headache, and glares from a couple of other shoppers? Post-adoption trauma on two-year-old May’s part, perhaps? Fear? Even terror? Maybe just utter frustration at not being able to express herself.

Or maybe not.

Try joy. Lisa and George are shopping, and George leaves the pair to go over and look at something. No problem . . . until May spies him and the shrieks of joy begin. There’s Daddy–and just a few yards away!

Lisa decides against trying to hush her delighted little one. “Stop being so happy” doesn’t sound quite right. May does well with “Shhh,” mind you. She says “Shhh” back, and resumes shrieking.

Lisa decides that in the time it takes someone to glare at her, she’ll have walked past them. There will come a time, probably quite soon, for May to turn the volume down on her happiness, but for now we’ll all enjoy this toddler who’s so full of joie de vivre.

If only joy were the only cause of headaches!


April 13, 2015: The First Day of May

2015-04-13 tulips

Tommy chooses–and pays for–a bouquet of tulips for Tricia. Lisa picks up a case of toiletries sure to please their honored guest. She and Tommy clean up his bedroom, where Tricia will be sleeping. Perhaps Tommy’s giant panda wonders what’s going on.

May’s bedroom, pretty in pink, is ready. This room, however, has not been prepared  for a guest. Two-year-old May is coming to live with her forever family.

2015-04-13 May tea set

We are so thankful for Tricia, May’s foster mom. She began visiting May in the hospital when the little girl was a premie, and the two developed a strong bond. Now May, utterly secure in the love of Tricia and her family, is settling in very nicely with her new mom and dad, and big brother Tommy.

2015-04-13 G and A stairs-cropped

Welcome home, little one!

2015-04-13 shoes

Destructomania–and a Lesson for Us

destroyed iphone

Tommy  has some special videos to show me–a young man destroying iPhones on YouTube (no link here!).

I marvel. This well-spoken young man immerses one iPhone in a specially made lava lamp, and tackles others with a blow torch, a hammer . . . .

“They’re experiments,” I say, trying to be encouraging, and telling myself that at least the videographer uses clean language. But I must admit to being baffled as to the point of it all.

Tommy watches in admiration as this “scientist” immerses, burns and hammers, but he takes good care of his own collection of ancient (to an eight-year-old) and modern cell phones.

When he was little, Tommy cheerfully (and with permission) destroyed his mother’s and my Fiddlestix™ creations, and checked to make sure he wasn’t allowed to wreck the grasshopper.

From whence comes this urge to destroy? A normal need for some degree of power and control, no doubt. And does it matter?

Perhaps. And this might be the takeaway point. Tommy understood animate vs. inanimate (and I’m including plants with inanimate objects here) at a very young age. But it appears that some children–and adults–do not.

And therein lies the lesson. As parents and grandparents, can we help little ones– who have a totally normal urge to control their environment–to learn that kittens, babies and other children have feelings, while dandelions and block towers do not?

boy with kitten


Live Movie Trailers?

Crocky Jan 2015

Tina is compassionate, patient and heroic in her interactions with her animals.  She no longer wants to be an Emperor Penguin (she was only little then), and the teacher, doctor and (thankfully!) NYC rock star dreams appear to have had their day, at least for now.

I suspect that what we’re seeing is preparation for a lifestyle of nurturing and gentle guidance.

I find it interesting that the dinosaur pictured above is neither devouring his contemporaries nor chasing Tina around the room. He is, in fact, learning the alphabet. It has amazed me for years how Tina puts her own spin on toys. A fancy pen becomes a mode of travel through space and time, a doll made by (another) grandma requires medical attention because her brains have migrated to her feet, and the stuffed animals (girls only) are tested to see if they’re pregnant.

Even the traditional teddy bear family pictured below is hiding in a cavern, rescued from hostile creatures by the writer and her granddaughter.

teddies 3 Feb 2015

Tommy’s games are different. Although, like Tina, he’s the “good guy,” he is perhaps “working on” different traits–particularly assertiveness and inventiveness. Or maybe he’s just doing what comes naturally.

In real life, one of Tommy’s chief traits is compassion. I could see him in administration, perhaps of a non-profit organization.

Tommy has one relatively stable and slowly evolving role, while Tina’s roles are more varied and fluid. Tina sets up the parameters for the game, and I operate with relative freedom within them. Tommy tells me both what to say and what to do (could a career in PR be looming?).

Tommy and Tina both have chores, homework and activities, but I’m thankful their parents also allow them down time to explore their worlds–and their places in them–in exactly their own ways. I feel privileged to enter in, and sometimes wonder if I’m being given a sneak preview of what lies ahead.