“Jo,” called Joanna Leigh from the bottom of the stairs. “Can you come here?”
“What ‘cha need, honey?” I called back from my study, located up the stairs and down the hall.
“I need you.”
I got up and walked down the hall and to the stair landing. There she stood at the bottom of the stairs. “What do you need?” I asked, thinking that everything looked ok. She started up, so I began walking back to my study. She followed.
My granddaughter has a bit of “separation anxiety” layered over the normal (I think) dose of “fear of the dark.” If I leave the kitchen and she suddenly doesn’t hear “kitchen noises” as she’s watching favorite programs in the den, she comes looking for me. She follows me around, even if I have to take the garbage out. Truth? It drives me crazy even as I understand why: Her mommy disappeared on her.
So, she followed me into my study instead of going to her room, which is right at the top of the stairs. I said, “You can go in your room and draw at your art table or read a book or change Saige’s clothes while I finish what I’m working on.”
“But I can’t,” she said.
“What??” I replied too harshly. “This is exasperating, Joanna Leigh.”
“But my room is dark. And Papa’s room is dark. And his bathroom is dark.”
“Ok, you and I are going to go turn on some lights. But first, we need to have a talk about this AGAIN. What are you scared of?”
“I don’t know. It’s just that I saw some eyes looking at me under my bed.”
“Joanna Leigh,” I said, “you are absolutely going to have to get over this. There are NO eyes under your bed. If you’re stay scared like this, you’ll never be able to explore stuff, go places, have fun. You’ve got to GET OVER IT, I said.
She dropped her eyes. Then she said, “Can I write that down on your note pad?”
She pointed to the yellow sticky notes. “Yes, here.” She wrote on several yellow stickies while I tried to finish what I was doing.
Still it drives me nutsy, and I’ve been trying to help her overcome those ideas. One of my main goals is to help her find a good sense of independence. She’s going to have to take care of herself sooner than she should have to, I’m afraid.
Lesson Two: Deal with It
The next evening, she came into my study and said, “Jo, how do I get over it?”
Oh, I felt so bad. Am I being too harsh? Am I making her more insecure? And on and on with my own fears that I’m not doing a good job raising my granddaughter, who will have to face difficulties at too young an age.
“Honey, you just have to look at your fears straight in the face and deal with it. You have to practice not being afraid. And deal with it.”
She thought. Then she said, “You mean like Elsa and Ana had to face theirs in ‘Frozen’?”
Lesson Three: The Big One
The last lesson was for me.
The next morning I went in her room to straighten up and make up her bed. I found these taped to headboard and vanity:
Below: This sticky on her headboard says: “From Jo (me) to Joanna (Joanna Leigh); (right) says To Joanna (Joanna Leigh) From Joanna (herself, a reminder)
Lesson: Am I lucky, or what?