Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Three-Year-Old Therapist

It was just after the first of the year. I was taking care of Laurel for the day, or so I thought. After shopping, lunch, and swimming and reading books we settled in to watch a movie--a children's movie. She picked "Tangled," the latest Disney version of Rapunzel. She told me that if I was going to be afraid she would hold my hand. How sweet! I thought this a rather strange reversal of roles, but I went along with it to encourage her sense of care for others. I am a pretty light weight when it comes to movies, but I knew I could handle a Disney movie.  But for Lolo's sake, when Rapunzel was threatened by her wicked imposter mother, I pretended to be afraid. Ok. I might have tensed up some. Ok. I might have been a little afraid. Anyway, Lo noticed and took my hand. Then she began a conversation that I still have trouble wrapping my mind around. My three and a half year-old granddaughter said to her fully mature grandmother,

"Cece. Don't be afraid. Self-talk."

I replied, "What?"

Laurel said, "When you are afraid, talk to yourself. Tell yourself not to be afraid."

So, I complied with my three and a half year-old therapist, and began to say, "It's going to be okay, Cece. Don't be. . ."

Laurel interrupted me. "No, Cece," she coached. "In your head. Talk to yourself in your head," she said while pointing to  her head  with a face every bit as serious as any counselor or therapist face I have ever seen.

I was speechless. Not because I was following her instructions to only talk in my head. I had quit being afraid or pretending to be afraid of what was going to happen to Rapunzel. Now I was speechless because I was just astounded.

"Where did you learn about self talk, Lolo," I asked her?

"At school," she answered without any sense that this was not normal run-of-the-mill preschool curriculum.

"Wow," I said, "How does self-talk work, Lolo?"

Laurel commenced to explain it to me. Of course. She said that whenever she is afraid or feeling sad, she talks to herself, in her head, and says things that make her not afraid or sad. In way more vocabulary than any three and a half year-old should be able to use I  was being coached on how to handle my emotions. She was counseling me. I was the patient and she was the therapist. Just one more piece of evidence of my certifiable residency in Gramasylum.

We finished watching the movie. Though there were other tense moments, Rapunzel was rescued from her evil captor and I made it through  with Lolo holding my hand and with intermittent self-talk. This little girl that has me crazy with love knows I am crazy and is willing to teach me how not to be quite so crazy. I can hardly wait to see what I learn from her when she starts kindergarten.

When did one of your grandchildren surprise you with an understanding of something you would never have suspected they knew anything about? Share your story by commenting below.

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