Jessica went over to her sister’s today to lend a hand with Christmas presents. (I plan on waiting until the last minute, especially since Jessica already “accidentally” found one of the presents from me and Namine). Since some of said presents were for Namine, and since I had to go back to work today, she dropped her off at my mom’s house, where she spent the day with my mom and sister.
The day was a busy one for Namine. She cooked food on her play stove; she made Christmas ornaments; she played hard. She also behaved herself very well. She even picked up her play room when she was done. (I actually haven’t seen the room as clean as it was when I arrived at my mom’s house this evening, so I know Namine did a good job picking it up.)
Namine also put on a show for Aunt Lydia in which a sick bird encounters a cat and an elephant. At one point they debate whether the bird is light or dark pink.
Of course, when it was time to go home, Namine didn’t want to go. She wanted to stay there, and point of fact, she’s been asking to spend the night at Gramma and Grampa’s for some time. But now was not a good time; my parents’ washer just broke – literally last night – and they needed to go shopping for a new one. So the plan was to drop me and Namine off at home (Jessica was still at her sister’s) before going to the store. But Namine did. Not. Want. To. Go.
I’ve written many times on the streak of blue steel that runs through Namine. Her iron will is how she is as strong as she is, but there is a downside: she can throw a mean tantrum when she sets her mind to it. And I could see it building. I recognized the look, and the tears welling up in her eyes spoke volumes to how much she wanted to stay.
I wrote before on how I’ve stopped using counting as a disciplinary measure. Namine is, for the most part, a reasonable and logical child. I appealed to that reason, explaining why we needed to go home.
I also feel that it would be unfair to demand behavior without explanation. When I was a child, “just because” or “I don’t know” were never acceptable explanations to my parents. I agree wholeheartedly with that, but I extend that same requirement of myself: whenever possible, I explain my reasons for expecting certain behavior from Namine, too. (I realize that sometimes a whole explanation is not possible, so it is sometimes simplified. But I endeavor to never resort to “because I said so.”)
After explaining to Namine why we needed to go home, I reminded her that I could not make her behave. “I can give you a timeout or take toys away,” I said (neither of which work as well as we’d like anyway, when we resort to using such crude tools – Namine is too solitary, too comfortable in her own head for them to have much effect), “but the only person who can make you behave is you.”
I could see the struggle in her eyes. She so wanted to have a tantrum. I know the feeling; all these emotions boiling within you, it feels as though you will explode. There is a desire, a destructive need to explode. I don’t know how better to explain it, but I understand it. But I had said all I could; the rest was up to her. Her emotions and feelings were at war with her reason and logic, and all I could do was wait and see.
Namine did not disappoint me. No, she made me proud. I saw her eyes change as she came out of her own head and knew which had won; she said, “I choose to behave the right way, Daddy. I will be nice. Let’s go home.”