After Ocean gets disciplined for something, we always 'hug it out' so he knows he's forgiven and things resume as normal. But lately he's been asking me if I'm happy after he comes out of time-out, as if somehow I can only be happy once his transgression has been atoned for. Ugh! How do I deal with this? I want to explain to him that my happiness doesn't depend on his behavior but that's a hard thing to explain to a 2 1/2 year old. Usually we have a weird conversation that goes something like this:
O: Are you happy Mommy?
Me: Ocean, mommy can be happy and frustrated at the same time. Just like mommy can be angry with something you do but still love you.
O: And dinosaurs. Right?
I could say, "Yes, I'm happy," but would that reinforce his idea of conditional love and place a burden on him to people-please? I also want him to believe that I know best (most of the time. Okay, some of the time.), to trust what I say and to be obedient. So maybe letting him know that it does make me proud when he listens and does what I ask isn't such a bad thing.
This morning, after a brief lecture on staying in his seat at the table, he asked, "Are you happy Mommy?" I took the less philosophical way out this time and just answered, "Yes, Ocean, I'm happy." "Good, Mommy," he replied. "You're my sweetheart."