A few days ago at the hour just after midnight, my blue eyed eight year old girl is sleeping next to me as daddy is out of town. She looks so small, yet so big, bundled up among crinkled sheets, the extra duvets and oversize pillows.
Switching off the light to go to sleep myself, I turn to her and, with the help of the moon, can just make out the shape of her head where it meets the pillow and the tiniest of movements in her chest as she breathes little breaths of warm air, a teddy held tightly in the crook of her arm. It is March moonlight magic. And as if that kind of magic isn’t enough, in her sleep, my blue eyed eight year old girl reaches out her hands, finds mine and with a little squeeze tucks it between both of hers. My blue eyed sleeping girl. And the tiny movement that means the world.
So just in case it has not been said enough, I just would like to remind us all…… It is truly the small things that make life big.
It may be feeling there is not enough time to play combined with a lingering sadness from falling out with a friend. Perhaps the formation of the letter T is deemed annoyingly tricky or drawings failing to meet expectations. Perhaps it is frustration over too many and too sharp words from a parent about the importance of something as boring as brushing hair or teeth or simply having to adjust to a new teacher. Or just a pure need for more air warmed by the sun, bare feet, a break.
Over the past weeks, we noticed that something was slightly different with both of our children. There seemed to be a growing presence of unexpected warm tears and at the end of the day, when taking stock of their stories, there was definitely more mentioning of “bad” things than good.
Amplifying the amount of proper attentive listening we offer as parents and providing an assortment of possible options as well as explicit advice on how to navigate their world, I am hopeful, will make a difference to how they perceive their days. However I believe that perhaps the most impactful thing we can do is this; every night before they drift off to sleep we not only encourage but “force” them to come up with at least 5 good things that has happened that day. 5 little or 5 big things. It doesn’t really matter as long as the experience is labelled “good”.
It unmistakeably sends them off to sleep in a better state. But not only that. Right now their brains seem to be scanning too much for the “bad”. This little “5 good things a day” exercise will over time become a habit – a habit where noticing and collecting more and more of the “good” runs automatically. And if ever there was a habit I would love my kids to have and one I would willingly give my right arm for, it is that one. Scanning for the good. Now an essential part of saying “Good night” in this house.