Like seriously. Connection changes EVERYTHING. Really fast.
We’re only on Day 2 here, and some major, major changes are already evident.
(Are you just joining me for the 30 Day “experiment” of learning to trust my kids and really dig deeper into truly peaceful and respectful parenting? Check out this post for an introduction of what we’re doing.
And click here to read how Day 1 went for us!)
What Addie ate: eggs with ketchup, toast with jelly, blueberries and more blueberries, banana bread, tortilla chips, water.
How many Hours of TV she watched: More than yesterday. The rainy day meant I said “yes” ….so I think she watched 1 hour in the morning while I blogged, then another 2-3 after lunch before we went out to buy an easel for her new free art space I’m working on.
When Addie went to bed: Just before 10:00. There were a few factors that changed tonight from last night: Kevin was home, and played with her, and I think she might play with him all night if she had the opportunity. She loves Daddy time. Also, Kevin told her “You can stay up! Come get us if you want to go to bed.” That was a different and potentially more exciting way to phrase it. So she played and played and played. Upstairs, downstairs, in the bath, at the table eating a night time snack of chips, and back.
Overall Lessons and Conclusions so far:
I’m not freaked out about bedtime.
So, 10 pm is a lot later than 8:30. But you know what happened? We loved it! Kevin and I just sat on the couch and enjoyed time together while she played independently all over the house. And because we weren’t internally ticking like a time bomb pushing for bedtime, we found ourselves enjoying every minute with her. Bedtime routines weren’t frustrating or rushed. They just happened in the mix, and were totally enjoyable. I’m not even lying or trying to make this sound good. It was absurdly enjoyable.
I did get really tired and anxious at about 9:45….Kind of freaking out, I think because it seemed so “bad” for a kid to be awake this late. I sort of recognized it in myself, and decided I just needed to go to bed. Kevin stayed up, but Addie decided to go to bed with me. She was asleep about 0.03 seconds after she laid down. She was CLEARLY tired.
So we’ll see what happens on Day 3!
I sat there listening to Addie playing with Kevin, and getting ready for bed, and I couldn’t believe how different her VOICE sounded. Truly. I didn’t even “do” connection perfectly today. Not even close. But I was MORE patient, MORE genuinely empathetic, SLOWER to express exasperation. Just that difference and she was noticably more durable, more cheerful, and more creative.
Even her voice is lighter, higher, and carrying more of a smile.
I asked Kevin if he noticed a difference, and before I even finished my sentence he was emphatically asserting that it was HUGELY different. In just 2 days, people! It’s kind of crazy to me how quickly she is responding to just small improvements.
When people feel good, they act good.
….And they ask for less help.
Right. So most of the time, I’ve sort of just tried to deal with Addie asking for help all day long, especially with things she is completely able to do herself. Feeding her, getting her dressed, buckling her carseat.
As soon as I began this experiment, she started doing things like picking out her clothes, getting herself dressed, buckling her carseat, and then coming to me and proudly showing me she could do it.
I think maybe she has been desperately needing to connect, and asking for help with these things because she was kind of living in a desert of my affection. The only way to MAKE me connect with her was to ask me to help her do physical things.
That breaks my heart. To realize how many, many times I’ve hurt and ignored her, and missed those bids for connection.
But I’m encouraged and excited to see how resilient she is. 2 days into this, and she feels connected enough to do those things herself!
I have been thinking throughout the day how many more times, in just 2 days, I have gotten to look into my girl’s eyes. How many more single minutes of the 1440 minutes we have each day, were spent in preciousness and joy, instead of being rushed or frustrated and disconnected. Even if I only added ONE more of those moments each day, why on earth wouldn’t I want to do that?!? That’s 365 more beautiful moments a year. And the reality is, even here at the beginning of these changes, it’s way more than one a day.
On another note- REAL Empathy is the only kind that works.
We decided to go and look for an easel, because its time for one! Her new free art space needs it.
We went to a craft store, without enough food beforehand, and she had a major meltdown as we walked through the store. I was definitely triggered, feeling embarrassed about the volume and my imagination of what people were thinking, but I was able to choose more empathy, and it really went so much better. It wasn’t an A+, maybe a B…..But so much better. It’s amazing to watch the intensity fade away as she realizes I’m listening. That I’m not just shoving on, ignoring or downplaying her emotions. When they have found a soft place to land, they seem not to last as long. They can move freely through her and then, as she returns to herself, she is able to grasp a new and lighter cheerfulness.
Only REAL empathy “works” though. I think in the past, I was actually pretty good at “reciting” empathetic words and limits…but I had gotten extremely out of practice in actually ENGAGING. And empathy is not empathy unless it is real and engaged.
Speaking of what “works”…
I keep trying to figure out what I’m looking for with this whole experiment. What “results” I’m going for. I’m not sure, but the truth I’m realizing is…..It’s not about results. I won’t even need “results.” I’m doing this, actually, deep down, because treating human beings kindly, listening to them, empathizing, considering their wants, and being respectful is the right thing to do.
It’s good and right, and whether or not it yields changes in my girl’s behavior or not, its worth it to live in goodness and set an example of kind humanity.
Tune in next time to see how things go tomorrow!