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rasberry bickering THURSDAY, JULY 21, 2011

Hoping to get a few lovely photos of the girls picking raspberries in the neighbor’s garden, I unexpectedly had the opportunity to document a squabble instead. I could have put down the camera. But then I remembered a conversation that I had with my dear friend Jenny about how rarely we photograph and record the unpleasant moments. Ellen had the bowl full of raspberries. Amabel wanted it. The pictures could tell you the rest of the story, but I have a bit more to add. Amabel can be fiercely protective of Ellen and care for her sister with great compassion. She can also scold Ellen at full tilt and dictate the direction of their play without cease. Ellen usually handles this all very well. She loves her Amie so very much that she is typically willing to go along with her sister’s antics. At home, Ellen is the one dressed up in odd clothing parading around the house; reclining in the dentist chair with a bunch of tools in her mouth; or on the end of a leash as Amabel’s loyal puppy. But sometimes Ellen wants her own way. And then she uses her hand gestures, serious facial expressions, and forceful voice to make her point. When Amabel realizes that she has pushed Ellen too hard, I will often hear her say, “Okay, honey” followed by a concession of some sort. However, at the raspberry patch, on this occasion, Amabel was not willing to give in. It was a hot night following a long, hot day; both girls were tired and ready for bed. Amie got the bowl of raspberries and Jeffrey and Ellie went off in another direction to pick flowers. This series of photos was not what I expected to come home with that evening. I had finally taken my camera out after over a week of moving and unpacking, and I was hoping to capture an image of beauty, reflecting how the girls are thriving in our new home. Disappointed that night, I put the camera away. But, now looking back on these photos a few days later - I do see beauty here. Maybe this is the point: perhaps I can learn to recognize the beauty in the midst of the unpleasant moments (not just after the fact). Perhaps pausing in the unpleasant moments can help me to understand the back and forth - the ups and downs - the ways in which our daughters are growing together, pushing against each other (and their parents) in an effort to find their places in this little world.

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