Last night, the weather turned into October weather...my daughter had been cool yesterday morning for her field trip & ended up warm with long sleeves at the farm. Oh well. Learning how to feel uncomfortable...It's a life skill, right?
But it's not about the learning to feel uncomfortable - it's about how to deal with it that separates people. From the moment a baby is born, he or she knows about discomfort. It's the way you process it that makes a difference.
Our parenting process has focused on adaptation. When our daughter was little, she needed to be fed whenever she needed it due to her low weight. We didn't look at the clock...if we mixed a bottle & she drank it, then that was the right thing. If not, oh well. We probably fed her a little more than some parents, but she was fine. At night, she would start to get annoyed if she wasn't put in her crib around 8:07. She'd start getting grumpy at 7:50 and then by 8:15, she was fine. We fought through it with her. If we were at someone's house or a restaurant, we didn't have an internal alarm clock at 7:30 that said we had to start getting her ready for bed otherwise the Apocalypse was near.
My dad recounted a story of going to someone's house when my brothers & I were young and how he could say in a commanding voice - WE ARE LEAVING NOW. My brothers & I would get into the car without a problem. I would bet my mom doesn't remember it this way, but that's not my point. Luke & I tell Lily that we're leaving someplace to give her a 5 minute warning. I think that's personal courtesy. Luke tells me he wants to leave because he's tired. I tell him we need to go because I'm tired. Just because she's a child & we're the parents, does that mean we cannot show her some courtesy? Luke felt my dad was scolding us (as he was) for doing that, but it's more of a "Get ready to leave" than a type of "this house will be bombed in 6 minutes, you must evacuate" approach.
No question that when it comes time to leave, we will lay down the law and drag said child kicking & screaming. But do you know how often that happens? Rarely.
Our child is not a different species - she is a person. We usually approach her as if she is - wait for it - a person. When she responds poorly, we then kick it up a notch. And that happens - she has a shoe problem in the morning, where she decides shoes she liked 2 days ago FEEL FUNNY. We give her a chance to rebuckle or retie them, but once is it. After that, we walk down the stairs without her. Knowing time is short, she must figure out what to do. She always follows us down...
It doesn't require yelling, spanking or taking things away. Every once in a while, there are some things that do...But mostly, she knows she has disappointed us, made us boycott her presence for a moment or that we have moved on from this seemingly momentous episode in her life.
She knows that she has angered us & that makes ALL of us sad. But she knows we care less about whether her shoes fit than she does & we aren't willing to listen to it. So she moves on.
And while I do not want to be my daughter's friend, I appreciate, actually adore, when she says, I like you so much. I know that she wouldn't actually say that about her friends, given the age & competition of being a five year old. When she says that, I think she means, you are a good person, I like spending time with you & I think you're nice. And when she says, I love you so much, that is the icing on the cake of Lily.
And when I get scared that I am a bad mom & say that in front of Lily, she is quick to say, You are a great mom. And I wish for her perspective.