Topping Off Her Day (Love, Trusting the bond, Bedtime rituals)

Her pal is over for a second night, rounding out the marathon play date. They had another splendid day filled with imagination and fun. While I did play with them in the pool a bit and take them to mini golf, they were mostly lost in their own world.

Come night time, I sent them off to bed while I munched on dinner and watched TV. She had asked if they could chat for a while, and I figured they’d do that for a good fifteen minutes. Five minutes after their departure, though, she appeared…

Her – “Daddy, do you really have to focus on that?”

Me – “Uh… what do you want to me to focus on?”

Her – “Snuggles.”

It kind of surprised me. I had accepted my position as the third wheel throughout the day. Here she was asking me to get back in the driver’s seat.

Me – “Of course! Let me just clean my dish and brush my teeth.”

She waited by the sink while I scrubbed my salad bowl…

Her – “Daddy, I love you.”

And off we went.

For a good ten minutes, I scratched her back and talked to her sweetly. She had a grin of contentment almost the entire time. I was content, too, sending her off happily into dream world and knowing she wanted Daddy to top off her day.

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Love Plus Ice Cream (Love, Grandparents, Bedtime rituals)

Don’t remember what we were talking about. More than likely, I was just doing what I do come night time and trying to send her off feeling safe and loved.

Me – “I love, love, love, love you. I adore you.”

Her – “What does adore mean?”

Me – “It means when you love someone sweetly and you tell them and show them your love so that they feel it. Like Nonna and Pappa with you. They adore you. You feel their love, right?”

She nodded and smiled.

And, I’m not sure what I can think of that a child would want more than to feel adored. Okay, maybe that and an ice cream cone…

Consequences Not Lectures (Peaceful parenting, Agreements, Teaching responsibility, Creative solutions)

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As any parent who has air outside of their home will tell you, getting a child to faithfully shut doors on the way out and conserve electricity can be a frustrating job. Okay, maybe not some children with the special door shutting gene. But my girl and several of her pals do not have that gene when they are excited. So, rather than get on their case as I have in the past, I have been employing a new strategy. I get excited, too! “Oh, fantastic, you left the door open. Now you’ll need to get out for a bit and help me with a home project as payment for the A/C.” No frustration. No louder voice or lecture. Just an agreement. Well, okay, they didn’t exactly agree to it, but it’s a stipulation for using the pool. This time, I had them put back some mats and assemble the pool gear box. They were rather proud of themselves for getting it done. I ended with, “I hope you leave the door open to the pool again soon! I’ve got some other projects that I’d like your help with.” Her pal grinned to himself like it was quite weird, and I grinned, too. No negative energy for anyone and a couple projects I don’t have to do. Consequences. You can either shut the door or you can make up for the A/C waste by doing a home project. Your call.

Sleepy But Listening (Love, Words matter, Bedtime rituals)

Another late summer night for her and her pal. I interrupted their movie (as I said I would) and sent them off to bed while I took a swim. After showering, I was surprised to enter into a silent room. No talking. Well, they wore themselves out. Gave her pal a pat on the back and wished him a good night. Then I headed over to my girl, knelt down in the dark next to her on the blow up mattress she is using and spoke into her ear. She seemed completely out.

Me – “I love you. You’re blessed. You’re loved. You’re worthy. You’re safe. You’re protected and guided. You’re powerful.”

In between each affirmation, I gave her a little kiss on the ear or cheek. On I went to a seemingly unresponsive child…

Me – “I love you just the way you are. You’re good.”

She perked up.

Her – “You mean I’m great?”

I chuckled.

Me – “You’re amazing.”

Her – “You’re amazing. I love you the way you are. I love you always and forever, no matter what.”

Just when you think a child isn’t listening…

Only Loving Words (Consciousness, Love, Nature, Nurturing)

Today, she wanted to plant some seeds we’ve had for a while, and it reminded me of this morbid experiment that I’ve long wanted to do.

Take two plants, treat them very differently and see what happens. To the first, yell at it, demean it, tell it it’s not wanted and useless and will never amount to anything. To the second, bathe it in loving thoughts. However, I’ve never done it. The act of consciously acting that way towards a living thing, well, it’s uncomfortable.

Nevertheless, I proposed this to my daughter today, curious what she’d say. If she said yes, and it demonstrated a difference, she would, for the rest of her life, understand the power of her words towards herself and others.

But… she didn’t need to do that test.

Her – “No. I don’t want to do that. That’s mean.”

Where does that come from, I wonder? Of course, I’ve corrected her when she has talked in an ill manner towards another friend. And, I’ve apologized when I’ve been too stern or harsh with my voice. From these situations, she’s certainly had it reinforced that there is a certain baseline of decency from which to live and to return to should we get off course.

However, I think it’s innate in us. Yes, we have our egos and our animalistic side. Yes, we have our selfish and judgmental thoughts. But I do believe in the innate goodness of most human beings that, given the chance, most will do the right thing. And, I saw it there in my daughter today when I offered her the opportunity to explore very negative ways of talking without consequence.

I think it’s a beautiful thing. I think most people are genuinely good, and it comes from some deeper part of us that is there in childhood.

There was a beautiful outcome from this conversation. I thought we were all done planting, but she asked me to come outside to speak to the plants with her. She wanted to start their lives out with sweet words. I recorded it, and it is a video I’ll always cherish.

Learning Through Living (Embedding learning)

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Yesterday, she practiced counting through pool diving for items that were assigned a value. Today, two other opportunities arose where I was able to insert some learning.

At lunchtime, the ravioli I was making called for a tablespoon of oil and a third a cup of water. I realized that I’d never truly shown her the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon. It’s always just, “Grab a spoon, will you?”

So, we reviewed that, and she put the oil into the pan. Then, it was time for discussing thirds with the water. Little things, I know, but it’s math, and it’s within life. I think I’ll do a lot more cooking with her, so she can learn in this way.

Not much later, another opportunity came up.

She wanted to plant some seeds. I asked her to get some advice from our friend on how best to do it.

Her – “No…”

Me – “She knows a lot more about this than we do. Why don’t we learn from her?”

She took me up on it and was told that we should fill them three quarters of the way up.

My girl has had a little work on fractions and percentages at school but not much. So, I took out a piece of paper first and explained quarters. Then I drew a pot next to it and helped her understand three quarters. With her little ‘map,’ she headed outside and handled it.

These are little things, but, I’m thinking about helping her learn in this way much more – through life. Of course, I’ve always done it in a myriad of ways as any parent does, but I’m going to do more now… embed the learning in what she sees as just fun living.

Noting Her Wisdom (Leadership, Creativity)

This afternoon, I was feeling a little off as I processed a couple things that occurred in the last couple days. Plopped on my bed to rest while she urged me to play.

Me – “Give me five minutes.”

She tried, but the pull was strong. To her credit, though, she didn’t fight reality. She worked with it, ceasing to ask. Instead, she lightened my mood. We have this little thing that started with me that she likes, too, now.

Pull off the sock very slowly
Tickle in between each toe
Stretch the entire foot
Scratch the bottom of the foot

Ahhh….

So, she did this and got me laughing. Only then did she pull me by the hand towards her creative project. Darn, she’s never read a book on leadership and she’s wiser than I am about it. Get the person feeling good, then call them to action.

Fast forward fifteen minutes. We’re building some kind of alien spaceship from our craft box. She seemed to have in mind how things should proceed to the point of resisting my ideas often.

Me – “Why don’t you put that there?”

Her – “Because that’s not what the idea is telling me to do.”

Not sure whether this post is about leadership or creativity, but they were both great reminders to me, if not outright lessons.