This past week was my birthday and it started well. My hubby and daughter, Joan, made me my favourite breakfast, pancakes, and I opened my presents, writes Alison Curtis.
We had a lazy slow start to the day, just the three of us.
Then later that morning we decided to head out for a country walk and this idea didn’t go down well with my daughter who proceeded to make a series of arguments against the idea.
After a little while of me trying to reason with her, I got really annoyed.
I told her she was being selfish as today wasn’t about what she wanted to do, it was MY birthday.
We ended up getting mad at each other and going into separate rooms. This was not my finest moment as a parent but I honestly was feeling hard done by and wanted just to have a nice stress-free birthday. A little while later my husband suggested that I end the argument as I am the adult in the situation.
I thought about it for a moment after and thought, no! Joan is eight and I think at this age most definitely needs to broaden her understanding that other people sometimes have priority.
That kindness means putting others ahead of yourself at times. Simply put, that it isn’t all about her.
Now having said all of this, and I have written about this here before, I do think Joan is incredibly empathetic and exceptionally kind. But I felt this situation was a learning one for her to see things from another person’s point of view.
And it is a very hard thing for young minds to figure out that others have needs and even harder for them to put that into practice.
She is so good at doing this with her friends and classmates, which is great. But not so good at it with my husband and I, which is totally normal.
But on my birthday it was a rare moment whereby I felt Joan was alone with her thoughts without distraction in her room and I wanted to see how she would handle it all.
So I left her for about 10 minutes and then went in and asked her what she was thinking. At first she focused on why she was upset but then after a little while of talking I pushed her to see if she could see why I might be upset and how I just wanted to have a nice birthday and no arguments.
And, importantly, how it was in her control because she could choose to co-operate and go with the flow and do what we all wanted to do as a family.
It didn’t take long to sink in and we both apologised for making the other one upset and eventually got out the door for our country walk.
The rest of the day was lovely. Hiking, a pint for me and my favourite Japanese food for dinner. Joan was great for the day. Checking in with me to see if I was having fun, randomly breaking into Happy Birthday and I honestly think making an effort to take the focus off of what she wanted to do to make it work for the threeof us.
I was glad I didn’t brush it under the carpet earlier that morning and just force her into the car without explaining why her fighting me on it was selfish on her part.
That her behaviour was more than just being awkward — it was not showing me kindness that she would show her peers and that adults are just like them, they just want to get their own damn way sometimes!