Just this week gone we went camping again. Down to a nice place on the lake a few hours from our place. It’s a great way to get away without spending a fortune, and a good way to show the girls the great out doors whilst leaving suburbia behind as there is no mobile phone reception. I know some of you would completely freak out at the thought but my wife and I want to teach our girls it’s ok to “unplug” for a few days, the world will not stop and you will see things you would normally miss with your eyes buried in a screen.
On one of these afternoons Brooke did something naughty, doing the best I could, I told her off and tried to explain to her why she could not hit her sister/poke the dog/ throw rocks/all of the above…. As she was tired from lack of sleep the night before she proceeded to have a full blown epic meltdown right there in the middle of the camper, it was a beauty. Something I had not seen her do for a while. There was screaming, foot stamping, screaming, crying, did I mention screaming??? It was spectacular. My wife and I ended up sending her to bed, 15 mins later she was still going. I went in to talk to her and try and calm her down but she was not having a bar of it. Brooke refused to talk to me, answered everything with “no” and did her best to hide her face and just mumble. Even asking her for a hug which always worked in the past was met with a resounding “NO”!!!!
I’ll be honest, as her dad it hurt. I always thought Brooke and I were close. She always loved her daddy cuddles but the last few weeks she had being shying away from them. Even turning away when I tell her “I love you”. I literally could feel my heart split in two inside my chest. I know she is only 4 and still has zero control over her emotions but I’ll be honest it still killed me. I decided to leave her alone as it seemed I was only making the situation worse. Jo, my beautiful wife said she would take over. As Jo grabbed Brooke and took her onto our bed I headed outside the camper to play with Jade.
Asking Jade for a cuddle was met with a resounding yes and a massive very tight hug. I also got my “miss you all day daddy” which is Jades way of saying I love you. We went for a little walk around the grassy area behind the camper. I could faintly hear Jo talking to Brooke hoping that she was having more luck than I did. Whilst talking and pointing things out to Jade, I had in the back of my mind, what was happening to my little girl? She was always so happy and always wanted to sit and talk and cuddle but now at just 4 she didn’t want daddy, she just wanted to sit alone.
As a Dear Dad all the irrational thoughts came out around how do I communicate with a sullen 4yr old. Is this the beginning of the end? I thought it was years away.. How will I talk to her now if all I get are grunts?? My wife seemed to be able to get through to her but I always ended up just getting a brick wall. We used to be so close. Walking with Jade and showing her Mother Nature was bitter sweet, I loved being able to teach Jade all these new things but felt that Brooke should be here too. Then, as fast as the tantrum started, it was over. Brooke came running out to us both asking me for a big hug and saying sorry for being naughty. She gave me a big hug and Jade was given one too. My little girl was back. Jo had worked her magic. What did she say? Was it a mother daughter thing that I didn’t understand? Was it that Jo had more patience than I? I thought to ask Jo later.
We finished our walk all together, my two daughters and I, checking out the little beauties the world had to offer. Feeling like a great Dear Dad again. Once the girls were in bed I asked Jo what did she say to Brooke to get her to calm down so quickly and say sorry for her actions. I was expecting her to say it was a mother daughter thing, something that in the past I haven’t understood but I would respect all the same. Jo turned to me and said that she barely said anything at all. Brooke had seen Jade and I out having fun on our walk and broke down crying. Jo then explained to Brooke that daddy still loved her very much but she needed to say sorry and could then come on the walk. And just like that her attitude changed. She came running over to Jade and I saying sorry and asking for hugs.
Once again Brooke was our happy little girl. She hung off me the rest of the day wanting cuddles and asking lots of questions. I knew this was not the end, I knew the mood swings would get a whole lot worse before they ever got better. But at that moment walking carrying Brooke and Jade with both their arms wrapped around my neck, I didn’t have a care in the world.
I was just happy to be their dad….