I owe this post to DIY Corporate Mom, who has given me so much more insight into our little Doves! THANK YOU Trina!
The weeks after the holidays was quite stressful for Jamie. For the first time, she screamed, cried and tried to reach for me when I brought her back to school. She cried for a long time according to her teacher and was tearful every day after that. And to think, this is a school I know she loves. Yet here she is, giving me a hard time about waking up and going there, and there were many, many tears. What happened?!
My confusion increased as she was doing it at gymnastics too — an after-school activity she insisted upon. It was crazy, because Jamie loves gymnastics, and she’s good at it too. Before the holidays, she couldn’t wait to let go of my hand when her class was called. Then suddenly, she wouldn’t just let go of my hand. She’d even cling to my leg and the tears would start.
There were tears from her — and from me! The baffled parent that I was, was again filled with self-doubt.
I tried every gentle tactic I knew of. I was supportive and present, waiting, watching and smiling. I tried to prep her before class and talk about the things she would look forward to at school. I told her to just finish this commitment and we’d be done, but all would just result in more tears.
I asked her if something was wrong, and she would say no. She just didn’t want to be away from me. Her teachers assured me she was fine in school once the tears stopped, and at pick up she has nothing but smiles and fun stories to tell about her day. It was the same at gymnastics; once she got past the five minutes of tears, she was back to her bouncy self.
A few days ago, it got so bad that Jamie didn’t want to leave the house. She insisted she wasn’t feeling well (she did have a cough and cold), and she asked to stay home with me. I’d never been allowed to do that in my time (and her cough or cold wasn’t bad at all!), but I was at my wits’ end. I was on the verge of removing her from all activities and school (to get a slot in a Montessori school anywhere in our neighborhood means you get on a one-year wait list, so it was a big decision!), but I took a breath, had some wine... and agreed she could stay home just for today.
All day Jamie followed me around and helped with chores.
We read books and played games and got quality time together.
She was again becoming her quirky little self instead of the ultra-sensitive timid and clingy version I had seen over the last few weeks. It also helped that I crowdsourced amongst my mom peers and I spoke at length multiple times with all her teachers. I re-read a blog post I wrote in my attempt to decode Jamie. And it was timely that Trina wrote about how she follows her little Dove (It’s worth the read!) — a fond term we use for our daughters. Because we both got MindPrint Innate Intellect scans for our girls (I tell you – MindPrint is worth every penny! I refer to those scans regularly and they’ve helped me understand my girls), we “speak” the same language. And here’s what it came down to.
Just as it is the nature of a Dove, she (we – I’m a Dove too!) has trouble with change. And really, we’ve had a lot of that in the last few months, with the move to the new house, the Christmas guests and all. It’s just been a constant overwhelming change.
Also, Doves are conflict and risk-averse. They’re peaceful by nature. Now over the holidays, Jamie was bullied everyday for two weeks, sometimes two or three times a day. We tried to explain to her that he was younger, and he probably didn’t know better (But his parents did! Arg!), and that she was strong and brave. I understand now that it had a latent effect on her and somehow made her uncertain, scared and timid. Of course it would; it happened in her own home, which should have been a safe and comfortable place, and I wasn’t always around to prevent it. It was a tough situation, and we were so relieved when they left.
Trina’s wise words were, “with Doves, resist the urge to toughen them up.” In a way, it re-affirmed my decision to let her stay home for a day. Besides, Jamie gets a whole lot of natural “toughening up” since she has Sam. And the fact that Sam is a Peacock, with characteristics opposite the Dove’s, you can imagine the daily dose of “adventure” Jamie gets (Juggling between both their needs is a story for another time. ;)).
The other thing about Jamie (again an accurate read from MindPrint), is her high EQ or Emotional Quotient.
Essentially, it tells you how you’d spontaneously react in new and unpredictable situations. Jamie’s only means that she is first emotional before she is logical. Also, a low IQ score doesn’t mean low intelligence. Jamie is actually smart in a very creative way (which is why her CQ is her second highest). AQ and CQ stand for adversity quotient and creative quotient respectively and are how you’d deal with adversity or use creativity.
Jamie and my husband have the same quotient profile; except my husband’s instinctive reaction is an impulsive angry retort, while Jamie cries over everything. It doesn’t matter how irrational the reason, high EQ-folk will only realize it after they’ve calmed down and they feel the situation is not as “emotionally charged” as it started out to be (Yes, this is very much my husband!).
Because I know this, Jamie and I process every situation and feeling. And it does help to name them — scared, frustrated, overwhelmed, tired, sad, excited, happy. I’ve also talked to Jamie’s teacher to take a more gentle approach when disciplining her, and when introducing her to new work. So these days after giving Jamie feedback, her teacher will sit awhile and build Jamie’s independence through new activities. It has worked wonders for us.
Thankfully her teachers and coaches are more than happy to — I dare say — bend some rules to help us rebuild her self-esteem and confidence.
For the time-being, her teachers and I agree there would be a physical transfer of Jamie’s hand from mine to theirs, so she knows (literally) she’s in safe hands. Rather than just dropping her at the door and leaving, I’ve also been allowed to linger outside the classroom until Jamie gives me the thumbs up sign to leave.
I’ve also made a more conscious effort to take Jamie on one-on-one dates and spend time doing things together.
When she’s with me, she is happy to try new things, and that might the best way for her to learn and explore in a safe environment. And I’m teaching Sam to treat Jamie the same way. Because she is Ate, and she loves her sister, we all have to pitch in and be patient and help. So far so good, and it seems like we are on the right track.
All these little things may seem so trivial, but they add up. Miraculously, over the last few days, Jamie seems to have found her old self again.
Lately, there have been no tears at the door. She also looks at me and says softly, “see you later mom.” And at gymnastics, when she sees her coach at the bottom of the steps, she (once again) takes the initiative to let go of my hand. She still checks from time to time to see if I’m watching but lately, it’s always been with a smile.
And oh my Lord: What a relief. The Dove is me cries for joy.