My five-year-old daughter is a remarkable little kid and last night I was reminded that she is also a girl. One thing I know as a woman is that sometimes we just need to talk- to process what is going on in our heads and hearts. If we don’t, then the stress builds and we find ourselves “discharging” and over-reacting to things that we direct all this built up stress towards.
So last night when I tried to get her into the tub, a thing she loves to do, she started to melt down. So I started with the physical reasons for why she would do this- was she hungry? Yep, so I gave her a snack. Was she tired? Nope, she took a nap at school. At this point she is still crying and whining about taking a tub, and I’m starting to get frustrated and consider forcing her in. But then it occurs to me that maybe, just maybe, she had a bad day and doesn’t know how to talk about it.
I turn off the water, wrap her up, and we sit down on her bed and, with my arm around her, I ask her about her day. So was Gaby (her best friend) at school today? Did you get to play with your favorite toys? Just a couple leading questions and pretty soon she is telling me about how she fell down and got scared and that during her dance class she couldn’t remember all the steps. I have her stand up and show me the moves that she got right and I see the stress leaving her little body and her face smiling. There is a complete shift and pretty soon she is singing in the tubby and the rest of the night is pretty mellow.
I read a parenting book once that talks about, if we, as moms and women, can understand ourselves, we are better equipped to understand our daughters. And it was so true in the simple way that it played out last night. I think in the day-to-day insanity that is our lives, I forgot that very important point. I thought about the days when I can’t wait to call one of my girlfriends and hear her voice and talk. Women have this remarkable nurturing ability that we use to support each other, and it was a great reminder last night to be that for my daughters as they learn to express their feelings.