A game of Farkle is perfect for simple and more complex arithmetic. Addition is necessary to keep score, subtraction is necessary to gain points, along with division and percentage related to determining odds. Estimation, assumption, ordering, quantity value, and value set recognition are also an integral aspect of the game.
At 10pm, no less…
Yes, you heard me right. Last night, my little one came to me with all the sincerity and gentleness she could muster (I’ve been sick, she knew I was exhausted), and asked if I would be willing to get her “princesses” (Polly Pocket collection) out for her. She wanted to play with them with her Papa before she went to sleep.
I collected this, um, collection about two months ago and put them up because there are so many pieces that she was having an impossible time managing them. Everything was consistently strewn, which just caused her and me frustration. (Not to mention the pairs of shoes that were no longer pairs.)
I think Polly Pockets are intended for kids about 6 and up. My Bugz inherited these about a year ago and she seemed to dig them, even if they drove her nuts not being able to dress the dolls and such without assistance. But eventually, it just got overwhelming, so I put them away for a while.
Last night, she presented this request, and instead of heaving a big sigh (which, I try not to do because well, it doesn’t feel good to have someone sigh or roll their eyes in exasperation at me… so why do it to my little person), I smiled. I looked at her for a moment, to determine if she was serious or just grasping for something to stall the sleep sequence (she’s recently become reluctant to go to sleep – something I’ll address in another post).
She was serious. She’d already spoken to her Papa to get his agreement to play the activity with her, and she a scenario going in her head for the princesses to play out. Though I knew she was tired, I saw a chance to honor her choice to genuinely request (instead of whine), and respect and grant her desires. Even though I thought there might be better uses of time, it didn’t matter, she is her own person and this is what she felt was valuable at that moment… I had the pleasure of saying “yes”.
There was one caveat, however. Her room was rather untidy (like, the floor had gone missing) and I knew that if we tried to add anything to it, it would just frustrate and ruin the experience. I have been meaning to get to her room for a week or two now, but with all the traveling and randomness of our present life, and my excellent ability to selectively procrastinate, I hadn’t worked with her on it. So, what a great opportunity (I hoped) to give her exactly her little heart’s desire, AND get her room cleaned… at 10pm, while hacking up a lung. – This is when I laugh, the kind of laugh that warms the entire room.
I told her, and I quote, “I would be happy to get your princesses out for you, however I think your room has to be clean first, or you won’t be able to find a place to play with them. Would you be willing to work with me (note: “work with me”, not, “help me”) to pick things up to make room for the princesses?”
And she did. She found it tough at the beginning, not knowing what to do and quickly becoming overwhelmed. (How many times have you told your older kids to clean their room, a power struggle ensues, and nothing gets cleaned? There is likely a really good reason…) Rather than run her out, tell her to just keep trying (which is defeating in a situation like this), or enter a battle, I have found it very successful to simply give her a task. In our case, I asked her to start by rounding up all the shoes and putting them in her closet. Later, I asked her to organize them in the closet by shoving them to one side, but initially just getting them in there was a step she could manage with confidence and success.
As I worked on the various miscellaneous stuff that would overwhelm any kid, I continued to make little piles and ask her to do certain actions with each. She continued to help, then yawned a bit and sat down. I asked her if she was tired. Yes. Did she still want to play princesses tonight? Yes.
Now, here is where some parents would respond with, “Well then, you have to keep cleaning.” In our home, bribery and coercion are tactics that are avoided as much as possible. So, instead of saying something like this, I simply acknowledged her fatigue, and I continued cleaning and organizing while she relaxed. No expectation of her, no shame imposed on her need for rest, and no resentment coming from me.
Within a few moments, she happily resumed working with me; she saw something that sparked her interest, that she knew she could succeed at, and she jumped right in. Within 10 minutes we had completed the task together, one that would have taken her hours alone, one that she would not have succeeded at because of her current neurological development. And one that, had I insisted she do alone (after all, she did make the mess alone), would have diminished her and left her feeling a failure (sometimes parents force the issue believing they are teaching responsibility… that’s not the lesson that is received however, and the child does not come out the other side with more self esteem or confidence).
Her room was spectacular! She was beaming with pride, accomplishment, and self satisfaction. She was also exhibiting gratitude, as was I.
Papa came, princesses were unearthed, and I went to relax with my lungs.
I don’t know when they finally drifted off to sleep, but I don’t care either; thankfully our schedule allows for this. More importantly, I trust that she will now forever have the memory of being safe enough to ask Mama for something that really mattered to her, being valued enough by Mama to be granted her request, being capable enough to work with Mama to complete an important task, being cherished enough by Papa to be played with (even when we’re all tired), and being unconditionally loved so much, that her sleep could come gently.
I invalidated my kiddo today. I didn’t mean to. And I tried to remedy and repair, as I managed to catch myself, three times (in one day, yes.. I know). Nonetheless, I did what I beg others not to do.
The incidents were simple: Each time my daughter voiced her opinion that something annoyed her (didn’t smell good, didn’t look good, she didn’t like it), and each time I countered that it was fine (did smell good, did look good, no reason to not like it). Stupid. Stupid.
The rub is the reason I responded as I did, because normally, I would simply acknowledge her opinion, acknowledge her for voicing it, ask questions perhaps, and let her have her thoughts and feelings (just like I want to be allowed my thoughts and feelings, and the validation of them and me). But today, for whatever reason, each time she expressed a negative opinion (stated above), it happened to be in public, and in the presence of adults within hearing (and being offended) distance.
Today I decided, in a rather knee-jerk fashion, to allow my need for social acceptance from other adults to supersede my respect and value of my daughter. To me, this is unacceptable.
Each time I countered, I caught myself and was able to restate with something along the lines of, “You don’t think this smells good? Well, I actually think it smells good, but you don’t. Ok.” Mind you, this only after my immediate response of, “It does smell good”.
I might as well have told her, “Don’t say it doesn’t smell good, and it’s not ok for you think that. Stop saying things that others will look at me funny out of assumed insult, where I might end up being embarrassed.”
Pathetic. I know.
What’s worse is… I know. I know better. I know how important it is to validate her, even if I disagree. I know how crucial it is to care more about her than what others might think (especially the general public). SERIOUSLY. I am not typically even remotely affected by what others think, why it got to me today, I don’t know. And it did get to me – at the expense of my little one – the one I’m to protect and uphold.
Lesson: Take my own advice and pay more attention.
Thankfully, my daughter allowed me to restate and try to repair each time (but really, I “caught” my error after the first time, why oh why did I repeat it twice more!!). Yet, I know it is there now, and I can’t take it back… I can only improve.
How many times a day do we, as adults, invalidate our little ones without even realizing it? I would encourage you today to intentionally become aware and if you catch yourself (or hear others) simply countering your little ones, think before you open your mouth next time. Remember, they are their own person. We have the responsibility to acknowledge their feelings and opinions as valid and worthy of existing – even if we don’t agree with them.
I wonder how many parents of teens would see a complete 180 in their relationships if they decided to zero in on this aspect of interaction with their teens, and make changes in their behaviors toward their teens.
Read the latest post here -> Let me do that for you.