A good rule of thumb: When you think you're doing a pretty good job at this parenting thing, that's when you are getting ready to learn something new or, in this case, re-learn something old. Such was the case with us Monday evening.
At bedtime, Ginny likes to ask our two big girls three questions: 1) What made you happy today? 2) What made you sad? 3) What did you learn? We could tell Nyla was feeling off Monday, just not the typical 5-year old she usually is. After some poking and prodding, Ginny was able to get a tearful Nyla to admit that she did not get enough hugs and kisses from Mommy. (Not what you want your child to tell you.) Nyla also tearfully told me that she wanted Mommy and Daddy to draw her pictures. You see, Nyla loves to draw. I mean, she enjoys it so much. I have at least a dozen pictures in my cubicle at work that she has drawn for me. And here she is, crying that we haven't drawn her any pictures.
We are proponents of the book The Five Love Languages. It's a great read and great way to find out how you feel loved and express love. For instance, my top 2 love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch. Ginny is quality time and acts of service. Nyla, we determined, was receiving gifts and probably acts of service. You see where I'm going with this, right? Her "love tank" was empty, because she didn't get any gifts! Here she was, drawing pictures for us, and we were ignoring that as a sign that she needs to get gifts, too! Thanking her for them and telling her how pretty they are weren't enough. Needless to say, Ginny and I felt terrible. I held Nyla at bedtime and told her that I was sorry for not drawing for her, because she draws many pretty pictures for us.
So naturally, I drew her a picture that night - a picture of Madeline (from the books) and three toys. I wrote a note telling Nyla I loved her and asking her what toy she thought Madeline should pick. As you can see from the picture, my drawing (and love) was well-received.
Yesterday, she was back to being our sweet, happy Nyla. Nyla, Naomi, and I sat down at the table last night and learned how to draw birds, a sailbot, a rocket, a bat, and an elephant. (Thanks, Pinterest!) The lesson here is to always, always, always be mindful of how your child (or spouse or family or friends) loves and feels loved.