As much as I try to do it all as a working mom, the best part of my day by far is when I pick up my daughter from her dayhome. I am excited to see her, hug her, and to learn about everything that happened with her day. I want to know it all. I will ask her questions about what she ate, whether she took at nap, whether she made a poop, whether she went outside, who she played with, and what they played. Sometimes, she doesn’t share the same “level” of excitement as me. One time during our car ride (and when she was three years old), I asked her about her day and she replied with: “Not now, mommy. I don’t want to talk.”
I would be lying if I said that didn’t hurt and I didn’t burst into tears.
Obviously, I didn’t cry in front of her as I was driving. When I got home, I didn’t ask any more questions. I was worried she had a bad day and wasn’t quite sure if I should ask her about it. I just gave her some space and trusted she would talk to me when she was ready.
As we were both having some quiet time, her reading a book in my office, and me starting dinner, I started to think about her day. I started to think about what her day is like through her eyes. I realized that each day, she:
has to share her day and dayhome provider with other kids;
has to follow a set routine as to when she has to eat, nap, and play;
has to follow rules imposed on her by the dayhome provider;
has to do things that she might not want to do at a particular time; and
has to communicate with others constantly.
Through her eyes, she is constantly being told what to do, when to do it, and who to do it from. I realized how overwhelming it must be for a child when they are only starting to develop their own communication skills and independence. It would be overwhelming for an adult too.
I realized my daughter (like me) needs some space and time to decompress. She needs time to be at home to do things she wants to do (within reason). She needs time to be herself and not have to act a certain way around our dayhome provider or older/younger children. She needs time to gather her thoughts (and words from her growing vocabulary) before she can tell me all about her day.
Giving my daughter space and not bombarding her with questions allowed her to really open up to me when she was ready. Without prompting questions, my daughter would still touch on all the things I wanted to know about. In addition, she would also tell me things that mattered to her and I wouldn’t know to ask about. One particular evening, she told me: Jacob got a new pink t-shirt that says “Just do it.” There wasn’t a boy named Jacob in her dayhome. Without freaking out, I asked her who is Jacob? I learned Jacob was a boy that goes to the same playground as my daughter, lives in the same cul-de-sac as our dayhome provider, and lives two houses down from my dad. I also learned he is in grade two and goes to the same school she will be going too.
My mind was blown. I learned so much more about my daughter and her day just by giving her some space. Although, it is not everyday that she needs her space after coming home, I now know to trust her and to wait patiently as she will want to talk, just maybe not at the time I want her to.
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