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Bonding With Gemma

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Candace and I began bonding on the day she was born. I loved holding her, and she loved me holding her, too.

That instant bonding process was repeated when Erin was born, and again when Elliana was born. They were comforted when I held and cuddled them from the first days they were born.

I was able to calm any upset any of the three of them had with the security and love they felt in my arms. There was no reason to believe that it would be different when Gemma was born.

I was certainly wrong about that!

Gemma not only did not want me to hold her, it seemed she did not even like me!

I would pop over to Candace’s house when Gemma was a baby just to try to get her to bond with me. Her bottom lip would begin quivering as soon as she saw me, and she would start crying as soon as I picked her up.

I tried cuddling her. She hated it. I tried rocking her. She hated that, too. I tried talking sweetly, whispering, and even singing lightly to her. She hated it all!

You probably would not believe this if you saw how she and I interact these days. She loves hanging out with me, and has even confided with her mom that she loves me or misses me when I have not been around for a day or two.

There were three significant events that seemed to have brought us from her hating me to her wanting to hang with Papa whenever the opportunity arises.

The first event was the first time I babysat her. Candace and Ricky wanted to go out, so Elliana and Gemma came over. Gemma is an odd child in that she does not take naps in cars, and usually will only take them in her bed with the lights off. Of course, I could not accommodate that at my house, and she was getting tired. I talked her into letting me hold her so she could rest. She fell asleep on my lap, and napped for about two hours while I held her.

After that, she was a bit more tolerant of me. She would let me play with her, but holding her and cuddling her were still beyond the scope of that toleration.

The second event occurred the August before she turned two in November. Elliana’s birthday gift that July was a one night, two day stay at Great Wolf Lodge. Ricky helped get everyone down there the first day, and left that night so he could work the next day. I took the second day off from work, and went down to play for the day and help get everyone home.

Though we were allowed to use the water park the second day until closing, the room had to be vacated that morning. Gemma and I played in the wading area that day. Her favorite thing was to sit on a seat that had a water cannon attached to it. I would pretend to try to see why the cannon was not working at which point she would blast me with water. We spent hours doing that.

She was obviously getting tired that afternoon, but there was no bed upon which she could take a nap. I found a reclining lounge chair, and, again, held her for a couple hours while she napped. The picture above is from that nap.

Both Candace and Linda offered to spell me from being her makeshift bed, but both said they would be doing it so I could play rather than sit there and hold her. I would have let either of them take my place if they had said it was for the opportunity to bond with her, but bonding with her was far more important to me than playing in the water park.

From then on, she actually seemed to like me a bit. She was more excited to see me when I came over to visit, and would, on rare occasions, let me hold her for short spells of time.

The third event was the day I took her and Elliana out for a Papa and granddaughters day to a ceramics shop. She and I painted a baby chick together to get her acclimated to how it was done, and then she painted a dog and a horse by herself needing help only when she wanted more paint on her palette. She was so excited about her creations that she didn’t want to leave after her third piece. However, the promise for ice cream persuaded her it was time to move on to the next part of the day.

We were near the waterfront. Elliana and I pointed out to her some boats upon the water. She asked me, "can we go on a boat?" I told her I would see what we could do.

When we finished our ice cream, we drove over to Southworth and got on a ferry to Vashon Island. She loved her boat ride, and was really excited when she found out we would need to take another boat ride to get off the island!

We drove the length of the island stopping at a little country store along the way. I told the girls they each could pick something out for themselves. After Gemma found what she wanted for herself, she asked if we could buy a wooden toy set she was also admiring for her mom. Of course, we bought both.

We took our second boat ride of the day back to Pt. Defiance, and headed for home.

She was so excited to tell her mom about painting the dog and the horse by herself, and her two boat rides! She also gave her mom the wooden toy set she so conscientiously bought for her, and proceeded to show her how to play with it properly!

That day was the third and final event of our bonding process! She now loves when I come over. She will let me pick her up and hug her, provided I don’t try to snuggle her too long. She never turns down an opportunity to hang with Papa, and often asks if she can come with me when I leave.

I will fall short of saying that bonding with Gemma was more important or sweeter than bonding with Candace, Erin, and Elliana. They were each different from the others, except that the process of bonding was immediate with those three loves of my life.

I would be lying, though, if I said I tried as hard to bond with the other three as I did with Gemma! It took a lot of trial and error, and a lot of persistence, to get to the point we are at today.

In the end, though, it was worth the effort to get that beautiful little blue eyed girl to love her Papa the way she now loves me!

Some other things I've written about: