Nothing makes you feel more like you’re in the Twilight Zone than when your four year old hits, kicks, punches and name calls. It stings even more when the behavior is directed almost solely at you as her mother.
I’d considered everything to explain her brash and sudden behavior – too much sugar, too much screen time, even a yeast infection; but I couldn’t seem to peg the blame on anything.
After initiating a conversation with her teacher, however, it became apparent that the problem was me.
I’d worked hard to be a mindful but firm parent. Show her the boundaries, enforce the limits, support and guide her through the disciplining. I had worked with teenagers, after all, and dreaded the dynamic that existed between some of those girls and any figure of authority. That would not be my kid, I promised myself.
My parent-teacher conference, though, quickly made me realize that I was not the firm boundary-setter I thought I was. My daughter wasn’t consistently seeing me as any sort of authority, even a peaceful-mindful-attached one. It was deflating, but I was determined to turn things around.
We drew a hard line that weekend with her, and saw a glimmer of hope in more controlled behavior. My husband and I stood our ground together. I felt encouraged, while still a bit apprehensive to continue towards progress during the upcoming week, by myself while my husband was at work.
But then Monday was declared a snow day.
A snow day meant we’d have to spend the whole day together. There would be no preschool reprieve if things regressed. There’d be no opportunity for either of us to have some space and regroup.
But it’s funny; in life we often get exactly what we need. And what my daughter and I needed wasn’t space, it was the time together, just the two of us, and an opportunity to reconnect. I should have guessed this; I blog about connection so often and how important it is for the dynamic between me and my daughter. We spent the day in tune with each other: communicating, snuggling. It hadn’t hit me until then how long it had been, sadly, since I’d gotten a snuggly hug or an “I love you.” That day, there were several. It felt great. The day I was dreading turned out to be just the day we needed.
I’m not ready to wrap this up in a neat bow; I’m not naive and recognize that every day I parent is the first time I’ve ever done any of this – aka, I’m making this up as I go along. I don’t think we’ve reversed my daughter’s behavior in a weekend, and I certainly have more growing to do. Just as parenting is in general, this weekend was full of surprises, including a pleasant one in receiving exactly what we needed on our snow day – reconnection in order to move forward.
We’ll continue to roll with the punches on this mother-daughter thing we’ve got going…just, please, without the actual punches.