The other night, after a rousing game of chase, tickling and "who can scream the loudest in glee " with Daddy, the girls went to bed and spent the next hour trying to settle down. There is a weird correlation: The closer you are to quiet bedtime the more likely it is that a frenzied game of something crazy will ensue.
With lots of hugs, kisses and admonishments to be quiet they finally settled into bed. I went in a little while later to say my own goodnights (In my calm, soothing mom spirit that is guaranteed to cause eyelids to droop and sweet smiles hover on lips. Ha!)
After a hug The Princess said to me "Mommy, I don't like Daddy."
Now, there was much evidence to the contrary, starting with fact that she'd just begged him to tickle her to the point of vomiting and protested loudly when all games were declared to be at an end. And my instinctive response was to immediately tell her she was wrong and educate her as to why.
But I saw the gleam in her eyes. The question, the anticipation, and the WONDERING of what my response would be. Those words were rolling experimentally along her tongue. Because, to a 6 year old this is highly inflammatory statement. To the Dad in question it's rather inflammatory as well. But the response she thought she'd get wasn't what she needed and, more importantly, it wasn't the one I needed to give.
"That's okay. You don't have to like Daddy but he will always love you." Her head cocked with this surprise bit of information.
"Daddy and I love you. Sometimes you might be mad at us and sometimes you'll have lots of fun with us, sometimes we'll all be happy and sometimes we'll all be sad but we will always love you no matter what."
We're both practicing this parent/child thing. She's practicing the ability to be herself, to say what she feels, to be honest with the good and the bad. We're practicing how to create the space to let her do that. How to build the safety in so that when she says it at six or screams she hates us at sixteen she knows that the love is still there.
Plus this is a good way to start building a thick skin.
If you're following any blogs from people in the Pacific Northwest you're well aware of what an amazing fall it's been. Clear, sunny, crisp. Spectacular. I won't be sad when the rain finally arrives but this weather is amazing!
We are going full tilt this fall, as one can see from my lack of posts as of late. What with the addition of serious (and continued, blerg, blah, argh...) job hunting (Steve), homeschool for The Princess, starting an additional part-time job for the time being (me), and a serious case of germs that has taken hold of all of us and seems to want to set up camp for the rest of the winter (hopefully NOT!) things (me, Steve too) are feeling a little stretched.
However, there are positives in all of those new stressors and today's silver lining was obvious. Actually, it's more like the stressors were the gray lining AROUND the silver cloud.
The Princess loves science and today we followed up on our study of Copernicus by plotting out the solar system prior to his realization that the sun is the center of our universe. We've talked about Copernicus and watched a couple of Youtube videos, but I wasn't sure how much she'd retained until we started working on the project together. Turns out she'd retained it all and schooled me on the facts!
So, we had a delightful afternoon of conversation, questions, coloring and stickering. It's the kind of learning I'd envisioned when we decided to try homeschooling this year - building a love of learning in her and reinforcing it in me.
I've been thinking a lot about framing. How we frame the world, our lives. How it's something we learn, something we practice, something we choose to do.
It's a struggle sometimes, to frame the world with hope.
But, I don't think that framing the world in a positive way is naïve, silly, or a waste of time. It's a struggle between the world we're presented and the belief that there is more going on than what is in sight.
And now, with kids, my frame is even more important. Because, as each day begins I'm teaching them how to view themselves and the world and how they navigate in it.
The frame isn't gilded with gold, it isn't ornate and it doesn't surround rose-colored glass. It's worn, sanded, excoriated and polished with cracks and dents. It's a frame that highlights the good, is realistic about the bad, and knows that the struggles are what give strength, character and empathy.