I can still remember when Sebastian and I first started talking on Facebook many months ago, when he told me of his little 2 1/2 year old girl Tyra, and how she was the light of his life. I can still remember how my heart warmed when he told me this and how glad it made me feel.
Many people quietly freak out when their potential love interest reveals that there is a child involved, but me…no. It made me smile and want to get closer.
When I first met Tyra, she was shy, quiet and sometimes sad. But it was to be expected. She was still a baby and I was something so very unfamiliar. Not only was I an unfamiliar presence, but I also talked in a different language, one she didn’t understand.
She would cry when I would sit next to Sebastian on the sofa, cry when I would hold his hand, cry when we spoke too much in English. I felt so guilty when I would see her little bottom lip tremble, and cursed myself for not being able to comfort her in her native tongue.
Sebastian and I knew that getting used to this new presence would take time, and we adapted our behaviour around Tyra to make it easier for her. For example, I would sit on the armchair and Sebastian and Tyra would sit on the sofa when we could eat or watch TV. Sebastian and I would keep our close contact brief when she was around, giving a quick hug or a kiss when we were in a different room or she was preoccupied with a toy or a book. I would also sometimes even sit in another room so that Tyra could have her alone time with her father.
Adapting to the new situation took some time, but slowly, very slowly Tyra started to warm to me. She would invite me to sit on the couch or ask me to play hide and seek. I started to use the few Swedish words I knew with her –tack så mycket, varsågod, vill du har glass? var är pappa? – and gradually my confidence grew too.
About two months ago, Tyra started to ask me to feed her. She would let me pick up up and dance around the living room with me in her arms. She would take my things – lip balm, mobile phone, hair clips – and pass them to me with a smile from ear to ear.
I find myself become all the more attached to Tyra with every day that passes. I want her safe, happy and content always. When I can say something in Swedish to her, I feel our bond growing ever stronger and it’s the greatest feeling. When I first moved to Sweden, there were a lot of tears. Nowadays, there’s a lot of smiling and rarely wet eyes.
The other day, Tyra and I rode a fairground ride together. We sat next to each other and ate ice creams. On the same day we hid under the bed covers and waited for pappa trollet (Sebastian) to come and find us. I feel grateful and honoured that Tyra has accepted me, and I’m so excited about what the new years will bring.