Consistency in parenting yields a coffee reward
It was the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had. Ever.
One Monday when I woke up, Olivia had made me coffee. She was also in the middle of unloading the clean dishwasher. This was a first!
What a beautiful way to start the day. To background this, her dad was out of town for two weeks and it was just us girls, so I had told her we need to take care of each other.
I think she feels a tiny bit more like my partner and less like the child, when it’s just us. Of course, I still do all the mothering stuff, but she steps it up as much as a nine-year-old can. I appreciate it so much, even if it’s just waking up to coffee and unloaded dishes without having to ask her to help.
Facebook friends asked me how I did it. I’m sure a lot of that was in jest, but I got to thinking about it seriously anyway.
It’s attention and praise. I had given her all my time, every afternoon after school, and then completely on the weekend.
In order to not have her zone out on the computer, I made sure that we were out of the house for hours on the weekend. Pool, beach, family fitness gym class, library, baking, a long walk to the store, reading Spanish books, the park, a festival, a playdate.
Holy cow, I was SO TIRED by early evening that she even felt sorry for me and finished up fixing dinner. I could only heat up a frozen pizza on Sunday and I was slumped over on the sofa when the timer rang. She looked at me and said, “I can get that.”
These are not things she does as readily when her dad’s around because, you know, there’s two adults and we can handle it. Plus, the dynamic is different when it’s a family unit. Nice, but different. She’s in a defined role as the child.
I’ve noticed over the years that when there’s a concentrated period of attention like this, she feels good about herself, and then she wants to go above and beyond. At a different time, she cleaned the bathroom as a nice surprise. That was six months ago.
This isn’t a devious plan on her part to ask for something later. Maybe in a few years, she’ll get to that level of manipulation. Right now, she just wants to do something nice for Mommy.
So it’s a Monday and I’m reaping the reward from undivided attention over the weekend. You’re a parent and you give and you give and you give and you give. And you finally get an unsolicited cup of coffee, and you’re so grateful.
One thought on “Consistency in parenting yields a coffee reward”
Yes, sometimes it sure feels we parents just keep giving. But then an unexpected gesture from our children reassures us that we are on the right track!