Lately I've been reading a book called Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerich. It was a book repeatedly referenced by my Bible Study Leader from my Marriage Without Regrets course, and it was brought up, again, in our Marriage in Motion SS Class at church. I decided that if I was going to understand all of the references, I should give it a read. I'm at least halfway through (actually, I'm currently reading the chapters on ways a husband can show love to his wife even though it doesn't "apply" to me), and I've been letting the insights percolate throughout my day. A lot of the premise of the book is that women, deep down and to varying degrees, desire love above all else. They want connection with their spouse, and they want to live their lives in a constant state of "togetherness." This doesn't mean never separating or rejecting independent hobbies and activities, but the soul of woman desires to make certain that her relationship with the man in her life is in harmony. The need for connection is at the heart of woman - and makes her more prone to "chatting at the coffee shop" or just wanting to "talk." Even brain science supports this based upon the relational/connective way that women function neurologically vs. the more compartmentalized/mathematical way in which men function. I'm further challenged that this isn't by nurture, but that we were created this way by God in order to help the family function as He designed it. (ie a woman focused on maintaining relationships and harmony would thus be inclined to maintain the harmony between children/parents and between herself and her children. It serves more purposes than only the husband/wife relationship). Most of these values were things I encountered in our marriage counseling at Calvary in Grand Rapids. So, these aren't new ideas. What I do have the chance to observe now, is how early I can see these traits begin to manifest themselves. (Because I'm not 100% certain that I believe they are ENTIRELY in born. I think they are grown and cultivated, to a degree, by the company and society we keep). So, I wanted to see what my very young children are picking up. Most recently, I've noticed just how necessary this love/connection is in my daughter. (We'll have to see if the same desire is as strong in Benjamin ... all accounts so far would point to "probably not.") But my little girl wants full attention, to be heard, to be cuddled, to be physically close as a symbol of her parents' emotional closeness to her. She's always done things that show me this. If I'm washing the dishes and trying to listen to her story, she will tug on my pant leg, pulling my angle towards her face screaming, "Momma .... LISTEN TO ME WHEN I TALKIN' ... Momma LISTEN TO KAYLEIGH and come here!" If we're snuggled in bed and she wants to show me love (which is almost always), she will cup my chin in her hands, look me straight in the eyes and say, "Momma. You're a really good big Momma. I love you. You know that?? I love Momma." She WANTS love, she wants to show love, to receive love, and to communicate love, CLEARLY. (And yes, she's exceptional at copying the ways I model love/connection for her) Call me crazy, but I'm NOT certain those same types of actions (though I will do them to Ben as well) will come from my busy, rough and tumble little man.
At any rate, these longings for love and connection have taken a new direction as of late. For Christmas Kayleigh received a white board album of sorts that lets her write and color and practice letters and numbers and counting. She can color it up and erase and do it all over again. It is themed based upon the Disney Princesses!! These same princesses appear on her "big girl underpants" too. Well, we were watching Beauty and the Beast at Auntie Alaina's a few weeks ago, and Kayleigh made the connection! Her "Princess Belle" was on the TV, and she was PRETTY!!! Her house was pretty; her dresses were pretty ... and she got to dance in a very pretty ballroom. Kayleigh was so taken by the video that we decided it was time to purchase it for her. We did, and Belle has been the topic of conversation ever since ... "Belle and Beast are coming to the potty with me. Belle and Beast are takin' a nap with me ... etc" She's enamored with Belle AND Beast! I asked her what was her favorite part of the movie. With a look I remember ALL TO WELL (it's that star gazed dreamy face ... a far off look), "I love to watch the dance. It's just so .. so ... (sigh) PRETTY (whispered in reverence). I probably want to dance like Belle." (Her Daddy did teach her how to "dance like Belle" and it was oh so precious!! (But that's a post for another time)
I truly believe that while she can't conceive of romantic love (THANK THE LORD!!!), she can see there's something special about it. She can see a very pretty girl who is very beautifully happy ...and Beast (she doesn't really like the prince he turns into) who clearly pays attention to the pretty girl. I don't claim that Kayleigh knows why she likes it (other than it's pretty) but she's fiercely drawn to it ... She wants to watch it over and over and over. She hums the song, she twirls about the room clutching her Mickey ... completely fascinated by the entire scene. As soon as Belle is "set free" by the Beast, her attention is gone and she's off to something else. It's amazing to me that a girl so young can be so innocently drawn to something so classic and timeless ... maybe there is something to the idea that it's inborn after all ... jury is still out for me ... :) But for now, I'll enjoy having a little GIRL who loves to, "Just Watch the Dance."