There are often days in the parenting world, where you just have to throw your principled motivations out the front door and love. I remember when my sister realized that when our little cousin was three years old and threw a crazy tantrum that discipline was not the answer. It didn't work. But what did work was just stopping all the crazy and sitting down and holding her tightly and lovingly in your arms. That put an instant end to the tantrums.
A similar thing happened here this past week. It was go to Mom's house day and as the appointed hour drew nearer, the behavior and self control of our little angel went out the window. She has made a major mess of her room and I really wanted her to clean it up before she left. So often in the rush of heading to the other parent's house, clean up gets lost in the shuffle and we often end up cleaning up toys that really should've been cleaned up by Angel.
After asking her to clean her room repeatedly, even after breaking it up into bite size tasks for her, she was in a pile of tears. This is a kid who has always been a good cleaner-upper since she was tiny. Picking up toys and straightening her bed have never been a problem (except, again, in a time crunch). Trying to encourage her didn't work and I realized that this kid was anxious about going back to her mom's unstable home and needed love.
So I threw my parenting expectations and goals out the window, put on a short DVD and snuggled up on the couch with her. I had no more trouble that day. She was calm, pleasant and happy. The next day I started cleaning her room and I did it with a smile, knowing that I put her needs before my want for her to have a clean room. She's learning the lessons she needs to about organization, tidiness and responsibility. There was no need to force feed it that day.
Hopefully she'll remember instead that when she's in distress that we will drop everything to help and love her, that she never need feel alone or scared, that we have a responsibility to care for her and take it very thoughtfully and seriously. I'm so glad I made the right choice for that day. Another day, when it's right for the situation, I'll be a stickler about the room.
Have you found yourself in the cycle and how did you make the right choice? Easy? Hard?