Yesterday as we were driving home from school, I asked Riles how she did on her standardized test. She responded, I think I did well. I used my head and chose the right answers. Then that was the end of the conversation. Later in the evening, while riding as a family to pick up dinner for family movie night my wife asked her the same question, only this time her eyes lit up as she shared that she got a score of 200 on her assessment, but her goal was 205. (by the way- i’m pretty sure that 205 is near perfect).
That’s funny, I mused to my wife, she didn’t volunteer any of this information to me.
“Well, I guess you just have to ask the right questions” Samantha replied. Asking the right questions huh? I marvel at how well my wife knows our girls. It’s something that I’m still working on. To that end, currently I’m reading the book, The Love Dare for Parents, and for those of you if who’ve read the other Love Dare series, it’s just as good. Full disclosure, while I started the book to strengthen my relationship with my niece, I’ve found that each day’s dare has also held powerful implications for my relationships with my own daughters. One recent dare focused on the following:
Take time today to appreciate the unique qualities of each of your children. Try to think about their specific love languages, and then find an opportunity to demonstrate love to them in a way that they enjoy receiving love.
Thinking that this would be easy, I actually found it to be a bit of a homework assignment. For London for example, she’s only about 18 months so who knows what her specific love language is yet. I don’t even think she knows. I do know though that she hates feeling left out and she likes getting gifts so, I gave her some of my tea and let we let her stay up late for movie night with the rest of the girls. She was pretty delirious but I think she enjoyed the gesture.
Olivia is like me in many ways, we both like to show love via physical touch so she’s super affectionate. But I’m not quite sure if she likes to receive love that way (she only wants hugs and kisses if she invites them, even though she’s always willing to snuggle up). So last night while tucking her in when she stretched out her arms and asked for a big hug, I was kind of surprised (again- she doesn’t often ask for affection). After holding on for what felt like longer than usual, I left wondering…perhaps she this is her love language? But then again, she always like receiving gifts (whenever I pick her up her favorite question is what kind of surprise do you have for me today).
Riles was tricky for me. The test situation reminded me though why she probably didn’t tell me any specifics about her test results, she probably assumed that I would be disappointed in her not meeting her goal (which is crazy right?). It’s sad but true, I’m hardest on Riley (though to be fair, it’s still feels rare when I have to scold or reprimand her). But, it’s probably magnified in her mind because she’s so dang hard on herself. She’s my oldest, and she’s definitely a brilliant young lady. I’m actually super proud of her (I wonder how much she really knows that?). So, even when I critique her over little things, she could always use some words of affirmation to remind her how capable she is of doing things. I’ll be working on that more.
Finally for my niece, turns out she was the easiest of all to diagnose. Quality time is how she spells LOVE. From little things like asking me to go outside and toss around the football to wanting to curl up next to me on the couch and watch a show- she’s constantly wanting more of the thing that I feel most guarded about- my time. So today (just like we do once a month, though perhaps it could be more?), we have a date to hang out. We’re going to get mani/pedis together. God help me (the fumes in those places man!). I’m sure it’ll be fun though and secretly I’ve been looking forward to this, just like I look forward to hugs with Olivia, and celebrating Riley for who she is not what she does, and continuing to figure out what makes London tick.