There’s been a distinct disconnect between my almost four year old, Ameli, and myself lately. We just aren’t working well together. We’re not cooperating. I’m shouting at her, she’s shouting at me. She ignores me. She tells me I’m not her best friend anymore. She doesn’t listen to me… and the number of times I’ve said the words ‘you’re not listening to me’ made me realise that maybe, just maybe, the disconnect is because I’m not listening to her, either.
By listening to her, I don’t mean paying attention when she talks, or doing what her three year old demands insist. I mean really, deeply, listening to her, to what her words are not saying.
It started in Australia really, when I guess we pulled the rug out from under her world very quickly and spent six months constantly changing the rules, uncertain of what we were doing, or where, or when. That can’t have felt very secure for her.
Coming back to England has restored a lot of security and routine, but the disconnect has been there, a steady constant.
I remember some time back I started reading a book called Love Bombing which talks about resetting the emotional thermostats of parents and children. It makes sense. When you and your partner aren’t connecting your relationship suffers. When you spend time together, talk and have fun together, you end the day feeling a lot more connected and together than you started it. Why shouldn’t the same principle ring true for our relationships with our children?
The principle of Love Bombing is pretty simple. For a specific period of time, you do what the child wants. Whatever the child wants. You don’t answer the phone, read emails or have other distractions. Your attention is 100% on the child.
Don’t we all like to be the centre of attention for the person we love sometimes?
So, Ameli and I went to see a movie. She didn’t love the movie – she found it a bit scary – but she loved sitting on my lap, hiding in my arms. She loved it being just her and me.
And this morning, she came and sat next to me on the sofa for a while. She cuddled with me. She told me about sharks and shrinkets and all sorts of other things that occupy the mind of a toddler.
One movie doesn’t fix everything. There’s work to do, time to go. We’ll have to have a mamadate again. I look forward to it. I missed the closeness with my little big girl.