Five months and ten days from when you were born, you are perfect and unspoiled and everything that a baby should be. I do not wish to destroy that.
When you were born you were perfect. You knew little about the world that you were born into. You had curious little dark blue eyes and tiny hands with long graceful fingers that grabbed purposefully at the things that you wished to hold onto rather than grasping at everything that they touched. You are perfect, still.
I refuse to spoil you, daughter.
When you cry, I try and listen. Not only to the sound of your cries but to the way that you move your body in search of what it is that you need. I do not wish to spoil your understanding of your needs by assuming that I know when to meet them and when they can be ignored. I do not wish to spoil your understanding of your needs by insisting that you be pacified above your objections and your demands that I help you fix what is wrong. Later in life we will have talks about wants and needs and the world of today and how our bodies sometimes tell us things through instincts better adapted to times past than to today. Later in life we’ll talk about hormones and how they make us want things that are not healthy for us in the world that we live in now. We’ll talk about hunger in a world of abundant and unhealthy foods. We’ll talk about order and simplicity in a world of chaotic stimuli. But I will not teach you today that when you have a need it is something that you must deal with on your own before you have the ability to understand or cope. I will not teach you today that love comes at a scheduled time of convenience.
There are many things that I want for you, little one.
I want someday for you to find a man (or a woman) that you trust the way I struggle to be able to trust your father who has given me no cause to distrust him. I want you to recognize when someone loves you simply and permanently and without strings attached. To recognize that it is safe to speak freely of the things that you feel and to seek context for the things that make you happy, sad, angry, lonely, and deeply in love. I want you to be able to trust a person who is trustworthy, and to speak freely of your needs and wants and joys and feelings and hurts and angers without the fear of not being listened to, of chasing him away, of being manipulated by the things that you feel, or of being manipulative with simple descriptions of what you feel. I never want you locked in a ball where you feel unable to speak the simplest of things for fear of being misunderstood and held accountable for something that someone else has chosen read into your words.
I want you to always understand how much I love you and how hard I work to understand what it is you are feeling and what it is that you need, so that you will clearly hear the warning bells clanging if you ever meet someone who takes the shortcut of convenient assumption. I want you to understand that I will not pass judgement on your reasons for the needs that you have, even if I try to help you understand where those needs fit into the life that you have and the obligations and responsibilities that you have to your family and to your life. I want the chance to work with you at helping you make yourself understood clearly through the upset of another without sending you off to your room to try and struggle to formulate the words for your feelings before you have the insight to do so.
There is too much talk about spoiling children and too little talk about preserving the qualities that they are born with. I believe strongly that they are one and the same. I can spoil you by ignoring the things that need to be paid attention to just as easily as I can spoil you by burying you in toys and candy. And I can spoil you more easily by denying you trust and love when you need it than I ever could by being there for you when you need those things.
I can spoil you more easily by making you wonder when I will be there for you willingly and when I will not. By teaching you to work harder to gain my attention for the things that you want deeply or judging you for the expression of want and disappointment rather than simply understanding your hurt and holding you through you tears until you do as your older brother does now at two. “All done crying. Alexander feel better now, mommy. Let’s go play.” Something that I want your oldest brother to understand in us even as he learns distrust elsewhere. Something that I want all three of you to understand even as you move out into the world into the lives of those who have had their trust spoiled and who seek to spoil the trust of everyone else by constantly suspecting their expressions of feeling as attempts at manipulation.
I refuse to teach you that needing to be held is manipulative, and that having the need to cry in someone’s arms is a weakness. I refuse to allow you to go through childhood believing something that someday will earn you an abusive relationship rather than the ability to curl up in the arms of someone who loves you deeply. I refuse to spoil that thing that will someday give you comfort and closeness. I will not teach you that it is okay to curl away from comforting arms in the darkness when you could be held close by someone who will never hold that need against you. I refuse to send you away to cry alone so that I will not need to deal with the strongness of your emotions.
I will not spoil you like that, daughter. I refuse to spoil you.