Monday, March 28, 2011

Having another tool in my kit now

Last Saturday night, Chad had some friends and family over. I'd told Mallory we could do a craft but instead she chose to hang out in the basement at the ping-pong table with the guys. At 8 o' clock I went downstairs to fetch her for bedtime, and she informed me that she was ready to do her craft now. I informed her back that she'd traded the craft for her playtime with the guys, that we could do the craft in the morning, and that we were now on our way to bed. She did not take this news well so I wound up scooping her up to carry upstairs, and in a fit of frustration she started slapping me to try to get me to put her down.

That SO didn't go over well.

In the past, when she has lashed out like this (which luckily doesn't happen often, but it has definitely happened), I have yelled, begged, reasoned, threatened, etc. And it's pretty much all been to no avail. This time, I tried something different. I waited for her to calm down a bit, and then I told her in a very sombre voice that she really hurt my feelings when she hit me. Mallory has picked this 'hurt your feelings' bit up somewhere. A couple of times, she has told me that something I have said (normally something like not letting her have more dessert or refusing to read another bedtime story) has hurt her feelings. This time, I turned the tables on her, and judging by her quivery lip, I know I got to her.

The extent of my victory wasn't fully driven home until after I'd put her to bed. A few minutes later, she was back in my bedroom. "I need to tell you something," she said. I beckoned her over to me and she whispered in my ear, in a sombre voice of her own, "I want to tell you that I really, really love you and I am really, really sorry that I hurt your feelings," she said.

I was so proud of her. The thing about Mallory is, she has a mind of her own. It takes a lot to get through to her sometimes, and it's frustrating as hell. At the same time, I am not interested in squashing her spirit. Her pluckiness is part of what I love the most about her, and I know it will serve her well in the future if she can channel it the right way. It was a breakthrough because I think I finally succeeded in getting through to her on her own terms, without falling back on my authority position to make it happen.

It remains to be seen whether this eureka moment will persist - time will tell...


gramma lainey said...

How wonderful for both of you!! We praise the Lord for her sensitivity! What a joy to have her express her regrets for hurting her mother's feelings! We love you Mal.!!

SC said...

I actually had a little tear reading about her apologizing! That is so sweet, and so sweet that you got through to her without, as you say, taking the authoritative position.

She is going to go far in life if she can already muster up the courage to know to apologize without having it eat away at her for days.

Way to go Mallory. Way to go Mom!