This evening we had a wonderful first. Juliana and I were in the kitchen, from whence we could see Jamie relaxing by the fire in the living room. Papa, ya tebya lu-blue, I-love-you, she called out. As far as I know, this is the first time that she has initiated an I-love-you.
As I sat and stroked her cheek to help her fall asleep this evening I realized that both kids seem to be attaching well. I reflected for awhile on the reasons for this. The first and foremost is of course the Grace and Mercy of God. We've also done a lot of little things that I am sure have helped; I'll share some with you and I hope you will share some with me.
I try to touch their cheeks and palms and the soles of their feet as often as I can. We just work it into the daily routines.
- After sending the children to wash their hands, we check for the smell of soap. This of course puts our faces near their hands which is perfect for kissing the palms of their clean pink upstreached hands. They love this; I love this. Considering that they eat four meals a day, this is a lot of kisses. Kisses are good. (Have to mention here that they announce that they are ready for their kisses by saying "mama, I washed my hands." Today is the two month anniversary of our final decree and they are uttering grammatically correct sentences in the past tense. But I digress . . .)
- Whenever I put lotion on my hands I put it on their hands and cheeks. I rub it in.
- Any time a child seems to be heading towards trouble (whiny, or pesky, or naughty) I tell them that I can see that they need a snuggle and we have one. I hold them sideways, like a baby and cup their face in my hand and coo at them. Juliana can only handle a little bit of this, Andy lots more.
When I need to discipline them by putting them in the malinky-stuhl (little chair), I present it as a whole-family sadness. I'm sad for them, their sibling is sad, he or she is sad. We are all sad that he or she has to sit in the malinky stuhl . As a family, we empathize with each other about how un-fun it is to sit there. After the required number of minutes, I arrive at the chair and sit down and ask him or her why they are in the chair. They tell me. I ask them if it is nice or happy or fun to be in the chair. They say no, of course. I ask them which is better: not obeying and sitting in the chair or obeying and not sitting in the chair. Of course, they pick obeying. Then their chair time is over and we are all happy for them. Even though I am the enforcer of chair time, and the one who determines the duration, they focus on the fact that I am sad with them and that I too hope for no chair time. After chair time, no matter how small, we have a very big snuggle. We just recently went out and bought a very big chair expressly for snuggling in.
In a couple of other posts (this one and this one) I mentioned that Juliana has trouble with being scared at night. The minute we would leave the room she would start to whimper and it would work up to a full wail. We tried lots of thing and nothing really worked but I do think we have stumbled on the path to peaceful bedtimes.
The first thing we did was stop trying to talk her out of being scared. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it took us awhile. We had been trying to focus her attention on the big papa, barky dogs, fenced yard, etc. This helped a teeny tiny bit. Then we figured out how to use what she wanted (for us to stay) to get what we wanted (for us to be able to leave and go to bed ourselves). I taught her how to make hand puppets out of her fingers. One finger is Scared Juliana. She says "I'm scared." The other finger is Mama y Papa's Juliana. She says "Wait, good mama (or papa) will come." We tuck them in and remind her that, if after a short interval we hear no whimpering or crying, I will come back and pat her until she falls asleep. The first few times I just sat in the hall and waited to hear her breathing change and then returned so that she could feel as if she had been successful. I didn't want her to break into a cry and have to do without us.
Anyway, we have been stretching the interval so that she is settled for about 15 minutes now and when I do come back, she can fall asleep very quickly. I think hearing herself affirm that she is in a good place and that we will not disappear -- hearing herself affirm this, not hearing it from us -- is settling her, and of course is super for attachment as she is practicing the ability to believe in us.
The other trick is that when I am there to pat her, I only pat if her eyes are closed. If her eyes are open we exchange I love you-s. After a few of these, she gets a bit uncomfortable. I think it is a bit too intimate for her, so she closes her eyes again. Every night though, she can take a few more I love you-s before she closes her eyes. With her eyes closed, the pats resume and soon she is asleep, nestled into the covers and layers of physical love, visual love, and auditory love.
I'd love to hear your attachment and parenting tricks and tips.