This is a journal entry from September 10:
Ever since I got back from my trip, Jude has been like a different kid. He’s so clingy. He wants me to carry him everywhere and do everything for him. He wants nothing to do with Scott – only mommy. And he keeps shouting for things in a high-pitched, stressed-out voice, “I need JUICE!!” It is so frustrating, irritating, exasperating! I love this boy with all my heart, but I’m at my wits end with him.
Definitely I can see that when I went on that trip it caused some stress in little Jude’s life. Not only did I leave him, I brought the baby with me. I chose Koa over him. That’s painful. It’s been tough to get that connection back with him. The hard thing is, I know that what he needs is more connection, but his behavior is causing the opposite to happen. And with three other children, including a baby, it’s really hard to re-connect. And honestly, I don’t even know how to reconnect!
Well, I started reading a new book, Playful Parenting, and I had the breakthrough I’ve been praying for. I never realized before that play is such a powerful way to connect with our children.
“Since fun and laughs are the currency of children’s play, we may need some work on lightening up a bit. When we get disconnected from children – and we do, again and again – play is our best bridge back to deep connection with them.”
So, yesterday I determined to be more playful and see what would happen. I needed to go grocery shopping and decided that I would take my little “tiger cubs” shopping. When I took each one out of the van I gave them a little tug at the back of their necks with my mouth, the way a momma tiger carries her cubs. Jude’s eyes were twinkling. He thought this was the greatest thing ever. Instead of buying food we were hunting, and our grocery bags were our meat. The boys helped carry the bags into the car by carrying them in their mouths like little tigers. It was hysterical.
“When we are exhausted or when we are at the end of our rope, we tend to think that play will be just more of an energy drain. But when we engage playfully with our children, we find that sudenly we do have the energy, both for fun and for finding creative solutions to thorny problems.”
That night Kai, Ezzy and Koa all fell asleep, but Jude was still awake. This is a situation that could potentially frustrate me, but I decided to keep the playfulness going just to see what would happen. We started out playing tigers again. He was the baby tiger, I was the mommy and Scott was the daddy. Then we were hawks and the daddy hawk taught him how to fly and the mommy hawk fed him some worms. Then we were hermit crabs. Again he was the baby and Scott and I were the parents. We had to hide in our shells a lot. Next we were bears, but this time he was a “big boy bear.” His voice changed a little bit, he was being more confident and doing more things as a big boy bear. Then I suggested that the big boy bear was tired. He went to lay down by Koa, still as the “big boy bear” whispering that the big boy bear wouldn’t wake up the baby.
Jude’s face as I entered his world of imaginary play was incredible. Eyes alive, alert, engaged. Facial expression serious, concentrated, intense, fully engrossed in what he was imagining. He was seriously happy – like I haven’t seen him in quite some time.
Now today he seems to have a deeper contentment, he seems more brave, more able to risk being a “big boy” and know that I’ll be here, buiding trust back with me.
A friend came by who’s known to be a big Jude fan. Since my trip Jude has been very grumpy and mean with this friend who used to be his pal. Well, today Jude was being friendly, silly and engaging once more. ”Wow, he’s getting back to like he was before,” he said. Yes, he is. I think my Jude is back to stay.