A bad day – and two insights coming out of it
Did you ever have one of those days, when you worked hard all day while having a hard time to focus and not really accomplishing that much?
Well I had one of those days this week. It was one of the first really hot days of summer. I did have some trouble concentrating on my job, while all around me a lot was going on. So I worked hard trying to take care of all the tasks that arose during the day. But, at the end of the day I realized that my work hadn’t really made that much of a difference. All I really needed, was a moment for myself to ease the tension of the day. However, my wife and my kids thought it’s a great idea to go to the public pool. So during lunch Jeanne told me to come also when I had finished work. “Yeah yeah..”, I told her. I didn’t think about it any further.
So when evening came, the last thing I would have really wanted to do was to go to the pool and take my role as a daddy, having fun with my kids.
Unfortunately, the batteries of Jeanne’s mobile phone were down, so I didn’t have a chance to contact her and talk about not coming. She was expecting me.
When I arrived at the pool two of my kids immediately came running towards me. “Yippeeeee..daddy is here..!”, my girl was laughing and jumping up and down full of joy, eager for all the opportunities which had just arisen.
At the same time my third one let me know: “I want to go down the slide with you, daddy!” He wouldn’t want to go down himself, so he had been waiting for me all afternoon.
Now, what do you do in a situation like that? With needs that vary in such a dramatic way?
Well, of course I could have pulled myself together and cared for my kids. But at that moment it was too much for me, and I just sat down on a towel and went into passive mode. I felt really uncomfortable. My kids who had been expecting me so eagerly, didn’t understand, why I would not join them.
We went home soon after.
For the rest of the evening the two kids who had been expecting me so eagerly – especially my lovely girl – were weeping easily, even from little things happening.
“Well, for crying out loud..they sure are tired”, I concluded.
“You are tired!”,
I told my weeping girl.
“No! I am NOT tired!”,
she flared and she cried even harder.
“Ah, yes you are”, I replied.
“No I’m not!”
It would have been a never ending argument.
So we went on to get them ready for bed. It was then, when my girl quietly told my wife:
“Mommy, Daddy is so tiresome today…”
Jeanne immediately let me know, what she had told her.
So I went to my daughter, took her into my arms and told her:
“I love you, sweetheart! I really do. You are an amazing daughter.”
Of course, she gladly accepted my love.
And that’s when I had revelation number one.
I had told her that she was tired. Now would you like someone to tell you with such certainty how you feel, when you yourself know best about it? Well I as an adult certainly wouldn’t. Why should it be different with kids? Of course it is a great thing if we can help our kids sort out and name their feelings. But at the same time there are really various ways of how we can talk with each other. It would already have made a difference to say “Don’t you think, you are tired?” or “I have the impression that you are tired.”
I mean, that’s lesson 101 of what accent we should choose when we talk together as adults. Why not with our kids? I mean we want to be role models for our kids. We want to teach them respect. Why not lead by example?
The next morning, when I was reading the bible, I had revelation number two:
“Of course! My daughter had never realized all evening long why I had rejected her initiative at the pool. By me rejecting her ideas, she felt rejected as a person! She is not yet able to make the difference.”
During lunch, I apologized to her and I explained to her, what had happened the evening before. I explained, that the reason I wasn’t open for her ideas at the pool wasn’t her, but much rather my own tiredness from the day at work.
Children always take stuff like that personal. They feel like they themselves are the problem – unless we teach them otherwise. And really, it makes such a difference when we make sure that they know they are not the problem.
Looking back, I could have told my kids right when I arrived at the public pool, that I had a hard day at work, that I was exhausted and I would gladly play with them another time because I love them. Even though that would still be a disappointment, it would have taught them how we can talk openly about how we feel – and most importantly, that they are loved.
Sometimes we learn these lessons the hard way. I would have preferred to spare my kids from experiencing me like that. At the same time it amazes me, how kids are so quick to forgive and move on. As parents we have a multitude of chances to improve and do it better. Isn’t that awesome?
I for myself I’m so glad that making a mistake is not having that final influence on my children, but that I can learn from it, do it better next time and enjoy life with my kids during the process.
Only a few days later, our girl went to a friend’s house. One of the siblings of that friend wasn’t all nice and sweet.
When my wife went to pick her up, and asked her on the way home how her afternoon went, our girl explained how that specific sibling of her friend wasn’t so nice.
After a short reflection, she added: Maybe he had a really stressful morning at school and was simply overwhelmed by it!
We rejoiced by that statement: Our girl had actually learned through my mistake and the way I put it right by explaining her the true reason behind my behavior, that many times – and probably most times – in life, it is not because of her doing something wrong, but simply because the person is having personal challenges.