Most of the time, Monica and Leah are great friends. They love each other deeply and often want to show it by hugging each other. But there are times when one of them wants to hug the other, and the other is just not in the mood for it. Feelings often get hurt more because hugs were not returned than anything else, which can lead to shoving and hitting. Oh, the irony!
That's what happened yesterday. Leah tried hugging Monica, knocking her off-balance. When they got up, Monica shoved Leah off of her and pushed her away. Cue the weeping and wailing. Having witnessed it, I was obligated to send Monica straight to time-out as we don't give warnings for hitting and biting. Monica started up her attempt to bargain with me, offering promises of never doing "it again, ever, ever, ever," just to avoid having to stand in the humiliating corner. But I stood firm. To the corner she must go. So, she stomped her way to the corner, muttering under her breath. Perhaps it's a blessing I can't hear well. I'm sure I'd be hearing a barrage of complaints of how unfair life is and how mean I am.
Anyways, since Monica is five years old, she stands in the corner for five minutes on her first offense and ten if she does it again. Maybe we are really mean. It's not often that she has to do a ten minute one, though. So, I think we'll keep it. But I digress. After a minute of complaining and muttering to herself, Monica quieted down. The last few minutes passed with her standing perfectly still and calm, with her arms by her side.
I called her out of time-out and praised her for how quickly she calmed down. Then we talked about things she could do if she didn't want a hug from Leah. I asked her if she thought Leah was being mean when she tried to hug her. She started crying and said no, she knew she was just trying to show her love. Then she said, "Mom, I said a prayer in time-out for Heavenly Father to help me not be mean." That's when I choked up. I asked her if she felt better, and she said yes, but mostly she just felt sorry for hurting Leah.
What else could I do but gather this girl up and hug her tight? I feel like she teaches me about sorrow and doing what is right more than I teach her, sometimes. I know when I'm taking my "time-outs" when I've said or done something unkind, my thoughts don't always go to praying for help to be kinder. I tend to try to justify my words. But here, in the pint-sized angels I have at home, I am learning the lessons I need.