My Sleepyhead Daughter Miracle
In honor of Rosh Hodesh Kislev (or, as Yaakov calls it, “Rosh Chodesh Sufgania”) I wanted to share a big parenting miracle which happened to me this very week.
First of all, some background. Last year, my old friend Sarah Greenberg highly recommended that I learn about a certain approach to parenting (known in Israel as the “Shefer Approach”) which she studied and found extremely helpful. So last month, when I saw a flyer advertising a 20-week course in this approach, I signed up.
You might wonder why I still need to take parenting classes after all these years raising all these kids and taking all the parenting classes I’ve already taken. But parenting is always challenging, no matter how long you’ve been doing it, and I find taking new parenting class, and not just relying on the things I’ve already learned, gives me a weekly burst of inspiration and insights and skills to propel me more happily and sane-ly through my mothering life.
During our second class, our teacher, educational counselor Hagit bar Asher, explained that every time children misbehave it is because, with this misbehavior, they are achieving a certain emotional reaction they subconsciously desire to bring about in the mother.
A child fails in school because he subconsciously craves his mother’s pity every time he brings home another 50 on a test.
Another child teases the baby, since she subconsciously craves her mother’s anger at her every time she makes the baby cry.
Another child criticizes her mother for this and that, since she subconsciously craves her mother’s guilt.
So, our homework for last week was to identify a misbehavior in one of our children, and remove our emotional reaction. And thereby, Hagit suggested, we would be able to remove the misbehavior as well.
The next morning I found myself trying, yet again, without success to wake up my perpetually sleepy-headed 1st grader, Tsofia Bat-Tsion, known to all Weisbergs as Tsoofy.
Like every morning, at 7:15 I tried to wake her up with a sweet, gentle, “Tsoofy, time to wake up, Chamuda.”
And then, like every morning, at 7:25 I went upstairs again to wake her up with a sweet, gentle, “Tsoofy, come on, it’s getting late, time to get up.”
And then, again, like every morning, at 7:35, I went upstairs again and found Tsoofy sound asleep, in dreamland, under her blanket. And by then, like every morning, I had had enough! I pulled off her blanket, fuming: “Tsoofy, you are going to be late for school! And I am not going to write you a late note for your teacher!” and then I pulled her downstairs, crying, where I dressed her and brushed her hair and fed her some breakfast so she’d be ready to go when the older neighbor that takes her to school came by to pick her up.
And then, the following morning, as I was walking to Tsoofy’s room to wake her up at 7:15, I asked myself what emotional reaction Tsoofy was achieving with her stubborn sleepy-headedness. Which no stick chart or promises of prizes or even threats could do away with. And I realized that Tsoofy, for whatever reason, craved my daily anger and frustration every AM. Take that away, Hagit had promised, and I would do away with the misbehavior.
So that morning, I told Tsoofy sweetly and gently, “This morning, I am only going to come to wake you up twice. If you keep on sleeping, you will be late to school.”
And sure enough, Tsoofy kept on sleeping, coming down at 7:50, not ready when the neighbor came to pick her up, and I took her to school late after I’d dropped off her two younger brothers at gan.
And now, for the last three mornings, Tsoofy has been downstairs, dressed and cheerful, eating cereal by 7:30 AM. No kidding. Sleepy-head Tsoofy became an early-riser. My first miracle, I hope of many, in this month of miracles.