Lately things with BQ have been difficult. Let’s just leave it at that. Her sweet four year old self has been living up to this age’s need to test all boundaries, push the limits of parental respect, and raise the sass-o-meter a couple notches. It took me by surprise and came at a horrible time. Being pregnant I am not exactly on my “A game” and mustering up the energy to offer her the consistent discipline, redirection and boundaries I had done in the past was hard. So, so hard. Rather than finding moments to teach her through the process, I found myself simply snapping, barking commands, and dishing out punishments. This was not good for either one of us and I found that after about two weeks of The Doc working nights without a real day off, not to mention the four days he was out of town, and the two of us in constant battle mode it was time for a change. Since I was too braindead to think of anything positive, I was grateful that it was The Doc who came through with a great idea.
A date night. Not for The Doc and I, but for BQ and I to reconnect and actually have fun. When I say that we had not had much or any fun together in those two weeks I am not kidding. Just like any relationship, when there is tension laughter and joy seem to be the first to go. I found a place where we could go for her to paint plaster pieces (side note that these pieces were so hideous. stick to the pottery places, people. luckily, she was none the wiser and thought they were amazing so it was fine.) It was unbelievable how the mood changed as the night progressed. She went from offering a bit of ‘tude to snuggling up to me at dinner. After three hours together she asked what else we could do “just the two of us.” I was able to focus all of my attention on her and we were reminded that we actually really like each other! What a gift.
In my parenting, I have found that whenever BQ’s behavior gets to be abysmal 9 times out of 10 we have fallen into what I call a “negative pattern.” Let me explain. BQ is a child who is wired to respond much more to praise than anything else. Maybe this is true for children universally, but when all I offer her is correction and punishment she flounders. She has a sticker chart where she receives stickers for good behavior. Never fails that when we are stuck in a negative rut I have not given out a single sticker for days. If I can recognize this, even though it is incredibly hard because I am usually way too frustrated to want to praise her, it is amazing what can happen. Even though I had been frustrated with her all morning, shifting gears to just focus on doing something light and fun was perfect. I had to get over my own frustrations and choose to enjoy my daughter. If I am going to be able to teach her and help her to develop the life skills that I am so desperate for her to learn, I have to love her at all times and with all behaviors. This part of mothering is so, so, so hard. There are times when I want to just throw up my hands and yell, “You are driving me CRAZY,” and run out the door. And yet, if I choose not to offer her forgiveness, or to not embrace her when inside it makes me cringe, I’m not ever going to have the impact I so desperately want. Did that that make sense? It’s an incredible image of the love that God has for us, isn’t it? When we are completely unloveable, He manages to find a way to embrace us and love us without reservation. Having received that kind of love, I have no choice but to offer it to these precious ones in my care.
So a different kind of date night has made all the difference. Are we still having our issues, of course. But my goodness has there been an improvement! I’m so grateful to have such a wise husband in this crazy parenting journey with me. Maybe next time I’ll take him out.