Last night Liliana told me she was ready for bed so we laid down. Ezabella wanted to stay up, but said she'd snuggle with us until Liliana fell asleep. Liliana was tired and cranky and started intentionally falling off the bed. "Help! Help! I'm ffffaaaallllliiiinnnnggggggg!" she whined while scooting herself further and further down. She sometimes does that while she's sitting on our laps and it usually means she's tired, needs our attention and is trying to meet that need by having us "rescue" her. I understand all that and try to take the message with that intent in mind, but honestly it about drives me up the wall. Fake pleas of helplessness is defiantly one of my triggers- there's something else to explore in counseling!
Anyway, I knew that the kindest and most effective way to handle it would be to remind her that my arms were waiting to snuggle her right here on the bed when she was ready to come back and then just wait. (Yes, I could have also "rescued" her, but sometimes a rescue attempt turns into her throwing herself back down and with my patience already worn thin, I knew I would not respond well to that). So, did I do that? No. Instead I let my impatience win and hoisted her back onto the bed, plunked her down in her spot and roughly said "If you don't make yourself fall, you won't fall!"
Her feelings were hurt and she started crying. Her crying is a high pitched squeal that I have a very hard time listening to. Then she threw the blanket off and said "I'm cold!" and I yelled "You won't be cold if you don't throw the blanket off!" She started crying harder. I plugged my ears and buried my head under the covers and gave myself a quick counseling session a la Non-violent Communication. I thought "When I listen to her cry, I feel frustrated and guilty, because I need to treat her with kindness and compassion." I took a few deep breaths and did a quick meditation on compassion, focusing on empathizing with her. Then I prayed out loud, so I could model it for both girls, "Abba help me to have compassion and to treat Liliana with kindness." I said it a few times and took a few more deep breaths.
Then Ezabella touched my arm and said, "Mom, you could rock her." At first I thanked her for her suggestion, but said no. I didn't want to get up. It took me about 30 seconds to realize Abba had just sent the answer to my prayer through Ezabella. I felt stuck and if I laid there just trying to be compassionate, listening to her crying, I was going to go nuts. This was something I could DO that would be kind, reconnect us, help her feel better and hopefully fall asleep. So I asked Liliana if she wanted me to rock her and she did. She snuggled her face into my neck while I rocked her and all was right with the world again.
It only took a few minutes after that for both girls to fall asleep. When I got up, I realized I was really hungry! No wonder I had been so cranky!