“Continuous quality improvement.” That’s parenting, in a nutshell. You don’t worry so much about process, but on future outcomes.
I’m trying something with our son… As I mentioned earlier my husband wonders if our son is quick to turn on tears because of the subsequent positive reinforcement. I think he might be right. When our son cries, I invariably ask, “Do you need a hug? What’s wrong? Tell me so that I can help you.” That’s great when there’s an actual problem to be solved. But sometimes, there was no discernible problem.
And sometimes, I forget to hug, generally. I give hugs and kisses good night, but not really during the day… maybe that’s not enough.
So, I’ve been randomly hugging and snuggling my tall, lanky, densely packed five-year-old boy for the past several days. I do it when he’s content, when he’s playing, when he’s being a goofball, when I notice his sister and he are playing nicely. He is eating it up. Sometimes I look at him from across the room and just hold my arms out and he drops all his toys to run to me and hug me so hard. It slays me.
We went out to dinner last night, and as he waited for his meal, his face took on this familiar look… very near a whiny, mopey look, but not quite. He was just feeling a little impatient, and was trying to be cool about it. I caught his eye and gave him an air kiss from across the table. He smiled and went back to coloring his kids’ menu placemat.
Last night they read stories before bed, and our son climbed in my lap and sat there for 15 minutes. I snuggled and tickled and we listened to his sister read. I could actually feel his breathing slow down, his heart rate decelerate… When it was time for bed, he did so quite happily. Just trotted off to sleep, with not even a second of good-humored protest or bargaining or stalling.
He hasn’t made a whiny sound in days. No tears for attention.
I nearly forgot he was a little boy, just five. I forgot he’s not like his sister, who is more like a cat–she gives you attention when she wants to, and is far more independent in her play. Our son is more like a puppy–he craves attention and almost always wants a buddy.
How did I forget that? It shames me.
Okay. Enough of the self-flagellation. We have two great kids. They need very little. And I have more than enough to give: day by day, hug by hug.