Dolly's haircut is scheduled for Saturday morning. I found a lovely spa that does cuts for Locks of Love for free. After that, we are both getting pedicures. (Dolly chews on her fingers something fierce and she knows I won't paint her fingernails until there is some white on the ends of them. Unfortunately it's a habit that started after coming in to Care as I do remember cutting her fingernails at least a few times two summers ago.) After our spa time we are going to go to lunch. She's pretty excited about getting to pick the restaurant. (Here's to hoping I can steer her to something nicer than Jack In The Box.)
Dolly has spent all week trying to convince me that she's happy about getting a haircut. Initially after court she was thrilled when I told her she was finally allowed to get it cut. But later on that night she turned things around. Through the monitor in her room I heard, "I not happy about a haircut Mommy! I not happy!"
I went upstairs and found Dolly playing on the floor of her room. Her whole body was slumped over and she looked so sad. Keeping things light I told her, "That's OK Dolly. You don't have to get it cut. Mommy will probably take you to get a trim so that your hair will look nicer and be healthy. But if you want long hair you can have long hair. I won't make you get it cut."
Dolly still sat there slumped over. Her sadness had nothing to do with the haircut (at least not directly). I came a little closer and sat down next to her. I said, "Dolly, I think there's something else bothering you. Are you missing your first mommy?"
Dolly collapsed into a puddle of tears. (This, in and of itself, is progress.) She even crawled over to my lap and let me comfort her. As is the way of Dolly, she immediately tried to stifle those tears. I told her it's good to cry. I told her to let it out.
Then we processed. I reminded her that she will always love her first mommy and that it's good. It's OK. Her heart is big enough to love us both. I did everything I could to validate those feelings that she doesn't understand. I'm trying to give her words for things. She didn't talk much. But she listened.
Side note: Dude was listening too. It's so radically different between the kids. I told Dolly that it's OK to miss her mom and Dude popped off in the background, "I don't!" He will someday. But right now, he just doesn't understand Dolly's grief.
For the first time ever Dolly asked me, "Why my mommy no keep me safe?"
I asked Dolly if she remembered anyone smoking in front of her or using drugs. She said no. I asked her if she remembered ever being left alone. She said no. Dolly literally has no idea what it was in her life that caused her to come in to Care. She doesn't remember any abuse or neglect.
So...I explained drugs. I explained that some drugs are good and they help people. I said other drugs are bad and the police say we can't have them. I reminded Dolly of the day she came to my home. I told her that she had been all alone in a hotel room and nobody knew where her mommy was. Throughout the entire conversation I tried hard to honor Dolly's family and to not add shame to anything. I told Dolly that it's very, very difficult to get better sometimes and Dolly's first mom is having a hard time. That's how I explain "jail" to Dude and Dolly. I tell them it's a place where grown-ups go if they are having a hard time keeping themselves safe. I say it's a place to help the grown-ups. (No sense in my opinion trying to explain laws or anything else. I just focus everything on staying safe. Dude and Dolly came to me so I could keep them safe. Their mom and dad are in jail because they weren't keeping themselves safe.)
I ended things by telling Dolly that I will always keep her safe and that she can love everyone. She really needs to hear that it's OK to still love her first mommy a lot. (Especially since Dude kept making comments about liking it here and not liking his first mom.) It's also getting harder for Dolly because she doesn't remember her first mom well. She has one fleeting memory of eating ice cream at a park with her first mom. That's it. The lack of memories is frightening to her. She needs to know it's OK to love someone she barely remembers.
About 5 minutes after I left Dolly's room and came back downstairs, Dolly skipped up to me and said, "I'm happy about a haircut Mommy."
All week long now Dolly has been telling me, "I'm happy about a haircut." I can tell she's trying to psych herself up for it. Dolly has no idea what to expect.
Most of the time I just smile and tell Dolly I'm glad she's happy. I will say something like, "I bet it will be nice to be able to leave your hair down sometimes." At least a couple times I've told her that the haircut will probably make her sad too. I'm convinced she's going to have a little "buyer's remorse" when all is said and done. Much of Dolly's identity is wrapped around that long, long hair. It is the focus of total strangers every time we go out. She can't be in public without someone talking about it and/or touching it. That will all stop when she gets it cut.
But Dolly is tired of how long it takes to care for the hair. And Dolly is tired of having to wear it up 100% of the time. She really does want it cut and I think eventually she will really like it.
I'm looking forward to the haircut. I can't wait for my life to be a little bit easier. But here I go again, throwing more change on my kid! Tomorrow is going to be an emotional day!!