Last night after dinner, my wife and daughter (2 1/2) and I were playing on the couch. I was intermittently physically preventing my daughter from getting to her mama. She would laugh and laugh — I would grab her, and then let her go, and then grab her again, and then “fight” with her mom over who should get to hold her. She continued laughing, and then moved from one couch to the other.
At that point, I moved between the two couches, declaring (highly ridiculously) “I am the best mama preventer around — you will never get to her!” My daughter ran right around me, and got straight to her mother. Then I asked her to push me over to get to her mom. She loved that even more, and I experimented with differing levels of resistance, trying to notice what level of fight from me allowed her to laugh the most. Her feelings (light fears — manifested by her laughter) just kept bubbling up. We did this for about 15 to 20 minutes, and then she wanted to put her babies to sleep. Great fun!
The interesting thing to me, though, is that 20 minutes later, when it was time for bed, my daughter asked to go night night with me, rather than with her mother. I can’t emphasize enough how huge this is. She has a strong mama “preference” and almost never chooses to be with me rather than with her mother. It seems obvious to me that because of the playlistening that we did with her earlier in the evening, my daughter worked through some of her feelings, and then was able to notice the truth of the matter: she wants me as much as she wants her mama.
This would NOT have been possible without my own time with a listening partner, and without the work of Hand in Hand, particularly of Lawrence Cohen (author of Playful Parenting) and Patty Wipfler and the other good folks who make this group work. Kudos!
- Keith Danner, a Parenting by Connection dad in Irvine, CA