One night last week, Pamela told us she was going to bed. Yes, I failed my personal parent RDI objective to prevent Pamela from bolting without closure. I was exhausted from entertaining company over the holidays, and my feet stayed glued to the floor. Yes, I am human.
As she left the room, Steve requested a goodnight kiss, which she ignored. We were too exhausted to trail her like RDI Superparents and allow face-to-face interaction. So, Steve got demanding, "Pamela, you get in here and give me a kiss."
She still ignored him. Then, he fell into his behavioral, forced compliance mode, "Pamela, come here right now. That's one. . . That's two!"
Now, I have been reading a wonderful book lately called Desiring God. This interaction reminded me of an analogy used in the book about duty and love. Will Steve feel loved if the only reason why I tidy up the house is because he will get upset? Will David be inspired when we discuss a book because it is my duty as a teacher? Will I feel joy because the only reason why Steve watches a movie with me is because he has nothing better to do?
Dwelling on that analogy, I asked Steve what a kiss would mean from someone coerced to do it. I asked him to let me handle it in a relational way with the caveat that Pamela could choose not to come back. He agreed.
Now, I should have gotten my carcass off the couch and talked to Pamela faced to face. I was just too tired. I called out, "Pamela, Daddy looks so sad. All he wants is a goodnight kiss. He is broken-hearted."
Then, we waited.
And, we waited.
We waited for about a minute when she burst into the room with a happy look on her face, and she kissed him goodnight. And, that kiss was sweeter than honey.