When your child’s behaviour is at its worst, that’s when she needs you the most.
I’d read this a few years ago in some parenting article, but had never really applied it. My elder one’s bad moods only became more rebellious and insolent as she grew older and each ‘fight’ only led me to become harsher and angrier.
A couple of evenings ago, there was the big battle again – who gets to sleep with mom in her room. On the whole, the kids manage to divide turns in a peaceful way. That evening, however, both wanted the ‘privilege’. Tempers grew hot, bad language was flung about, barbs hurtled like poisonous knives. I lost it too, I am ashamed to admit, and hotly ordered my elder one out of the room for her impertinence.
In the next few minutes though, this teaching came to mind. And my anger suddenly dissolved. So suddenly, in fact, that I now marvel in retrospect (must be the yoga). I felt nothing but an outpouring of love. I went to her room and hugged and kissed her to bits, saying over and over again, “I just want you to know, no matter how badly you behave, I will always love you with all my heart.” She kept staring at me as if I was mad – “Are you feeling mentally okay?” she even asked. But I insisted on kissing her hands and face until I had my fill, and then left her with a smiling goodnight. She still couldn’t believe my sudden change of heart, and pretended to be all uppity, but I think secretly she was touched and pleased.
My other daughter too began feeling guilty about her own hand in the whole uproar, and tears welled up in her eyes. I told her to go hug the elder one as well. “Delay showing your anger, but never delay showing your love,” I called out as she walked hesitantly to her sister’s room. They patched up, of course, and I think we all slept in peace that night.
Yesterday the domestic help was on leave, and I fully expected to come home to a pigsty of a house. Instead, the rooms were (relatively) clean, and the elder one – the last person to help out with household chores – was putting the clothes out to dry from the washing machine, get this, without being asked. Needless to say, the cooking, cleaning and other household duties that followed were like a dream to me, and showing her some love came naturally and in abundance.
I see You in the fights,
And I see You in the peace,
And I see You in the rubbing off we do with one another
Like potatoes in a sack,
Scrubbing each other clean.