Ivy looks at me with narrow eyes. Piercing me. I used to be like her as a kid. I had a quiet strength. And sometimes I’d get my way with my stubbornness. Mama wound give in because she would rise above the power struggle. She seemed immune to it. She adapted.
This morning I was telling conrad how we struggle more as parents when we lead by fear. The fear of setting a precedent. The fear of sending the wrong message with our flexibility.
Yet, lowering our expectations in meal options, or allowing extra screen time or delaying the bedtime so they would be tired and ready to sleep seems wiser in the long run.
Today ivy tried to stare me down. And I’m tempted to show her I can meet her stubbornness and plus it. But, just like our physical strength, we abstain, we hold back, we show gentleness because we are so strong.
I try to reason with her but she just wants her way. And pouts. This is somewhat new.
At the pool she wanted to jump and swim to me. Learning to do so. On and on. For an hour. After many back and forth swims, I told her I want to do a lap. She would not want to hear about my plan, need, proposal. She gathered her eyebrows in a sign of deep sadness and discontent. I told her i need 2 minutes to swim and left. Sure enough she got over it.
Upon our return, at home she needed her bike. Last night past her bedtime she expressed the same frustration for not having it then, when she wanted it. We did what we needed to do. Put them to bed. Today she insisted it was of utmost importance. Conrad went a second time down the neighborhood streets for the helmet. She tried twice to ride it, and she was done. It doesn’t matter that we were twice down, once for the bike, once for the helmet, pumped the tires, and tried to help her learn. She had to convince herself of what we already told her.
Jackie on the other side is still grumpy about her back stretches and often does them with a bad attitude. And in all this mess, I see the idiotic tendency of my parenting need of wanting to get my way. I just what them to obey and do what they are told, advised, encouraged to do.
Ivy reached for a hug in the kitchen. After hugging her for a long time I told her that, many times, she won’t see the reason behind our requests. But there comes a time in her life when she’ll have to express her disapproval, disagreement, displeasure and then still say “ok mammy, let’s do what needs to be done”. I let that sink in.
Once we shake off the fear of judgement or the fear of screwing up, we connect to their hearts and do the right thing. We always know. All parents know deep down what needs to be do e and said. If only we weren’t so bombarded with the fear of appearance, or long term effects, or perfectly delivered advice. I’m sick of the perfect parenting techniques delivered as if everyone’s needs are perfectly met, everyone is rested and has space to digest the truth and the solution for any given problem. Life is not lived in a vacuum. We need to think on our feet, adapt under pressure, decide under heavy artillery attack, and believe. Ah, there is this beautiful movie I soured you real events, about the captain of a ship played by Tom Hanks. Parenting feels like his extreme experience. And watching movies like that gives me hope and inspiration to keep going strong. There is a lot at stake.