We visited the in-laws over the holiday weekend. Nine hours to drive there and nine hours to drive back. Gus, our dog, was the least cranky and best behaved of us all.
We went fishing, played croquet, saw the sights of my Wife's childhood, admired Nana's garden, feasted on heaps of food, explored Papa's junk yard, rode on an ATV with Pepere, and fed squirrels and chipmunks from our hands.
We still haven't managed to get the timing right for these visits. This time, we took two full days for travel and had a three day visit. I think we were all ready for us to head home after the second day of visiting.
The grandparent's don't know how to interact with the kids. They feel they should love them, have some bond with them. But they don't yet. That's laced with guilt. We all needed to be reminded that this was only the second time meeting Nana and Papa.
The kids are overwhelmed at discovering this whole new big family that has a history that pre-dates them. They only met four new people this weekend - an aunt, a cousin, Memere and Pepere. They both were overwhelmed and said it was too much.
Bella is phony and fake. Just as we thought we were discovering a realness in her, an essence of whomever she is, it quickly becomes shielded in a sticky, sweet fake. She crawls into strangers laps, albeit they are now relatives, for cuddles and professes her love. Tears stream down her face when we leave because she's going to miss Memere, Pepere, Nana and Papa, so much.
None of this emotion feels real. It often alienates and estranges her more from the ones she professes to love.
Worry creases the brow of all the adults in the room. We all see the danger in her actions especially in the looming teenage years. Bad boyfriends. Unhealthy relationships. Easy sex. Pregnancy possibilities. Yet, none of us know what interventions we can take to help.
Building self-confidence and self-esteem takes time. And, with our now 12-year-old daughter time is something we are lacking.