It is my main objective these days to connect to my kids. Everything else goes well if we are connected; if we aren't, nothing goes well, not the daily workings of the house, not any outings, not structured learning...I end up feeling out of control and frantic, and I see those feelings mirrored especially in my eight (almost!) year old's eyes, stance and angry spitting words. It is easier to connect with Ani, who is still wanting to be near me for most things - sleeping, reading, playing, helping me clean, she even wants company in the bathroom, mostly just because she wants company. Eliza is more detached, wanting space and independence, not wanting me riding her all day like I tend to as I feel her drift away...She is trying on different attitudes, not all of them in harmony with the way we do things in our family.
I have a good friend here who is doing an admirable job of navigating life with teenagers, which is by turns fascinating, annoying, frightening and amazing. As much as she feels like she is feeling her way in the dark with how to connect with them, she did say the other day as we sat together drinking tea and hashing out our lives, that she is really aware of how all the hard work of connecting and keeping open communication with them when they were little is paying off. They share everything with her - sometimes more than she'd like! I left her home buzzing with the reminder that though Eliza is only 8, those years are going to go by so quickly and that now is what matters so much.
This quote came to me last night and is going up on my fridge as a reminder for setting the foundation of how I want to be with my girls.
"If I had to make a general rule for living and working with children, it might be this: be wary of saying or doing anything to a child that you would not do to another adult, whose good opinion and affection you valued." John Holt
It feels a bit like going back to square one in my parenting life, but maybe that's where I need to be right now in order for us to move forward with harmony and respect...