“Still waters run deep.” That is a phrase my mom used to describe me as a child and it certainly applies to our 3 1/2 year old Dellabug. Beneath her threenager antics lies an observant mind and gentle heart capable of absorbing more than I realize. My husband and I try to shield her from much of the world still, but with the topic of adoption and orphans, we have often ended up in conversations with her about death, fear, loss, family, faith and more. She has not had nightmares or had any separation anxiety when we’ve left the room, as I was worried might happen, but I also wonder what she makes of these conversations.
Today, while I set about tidying the basement, she was my shadow, rearranging what I had just set up and humming to herself. Soon she found a box of baby bottles and set to work making a picnic for Angelina, who is a frequent guest to her imaginary play. She explained her system for storing the bottles so when Angelina cries, she will rush to the basement, fill up a bottle with milk, and bring it to Angelina to help her feel better.
I scooped her up in my arms to tell her, not for the first time, that Angelina is a big girl, bigger than Della. We will not be coming home from the hospital with a tiny baby like we did with her baby sister Kitty. Dellabug simply replied that she knew that already, but she could still pretend that she was a baby sometimes.
Comments like that concern me, I worry that perhaps Dellabug will have a very hard time resolving the big sister Angelina with her imaginary sister Angelina.
We went back to our respective and equally important jobs. My many thoughts were interrupted again by Della when she stopped her humming to say “Angelina is a big girl, but she didn’t have a mommy when she was a baby so when she cries, deep deep deep deeeep in her tummy, she is still a baby.”
Your tummy is the most important organ in my daughter’s mind, it encompasses your mind, heart, and physical body. What she was telling me was that, although Angelina is a big girl, much bigger than Dellabug herself, on the inside this big girl still has the need for nurturing like that of a baby because she didn’t receive motherly comfort in infancy. Dellabug is still in the age where my kisses magically heal bruised knees and hugs ward off all the scary things in the world. Deep, deep, deep down in her own tummy she knows the importance of parents; she used that knowledge to think of what it would be like to not have a mommy or a daddy.
I think this little big sister just summed up the adoptive parenting books I’ve been reading.