In the beginning, letters remained a tool to connect with River while she was at school. We’d toss a little post-it note, or a ripped piece of paper in her lunch. Now, I find that letters are a good way to connect with my children overall. Of course, this technique is more for River (who reads) then it is for Oak. But now she reads letters to him, and so, it is a way we all connect.
I noticed that River is the most calm and confident with this gesture. She loves reading, so it is something that makes her feel confident in her own abilities. Oak loves to be thought about and addressed, so, even though he can’t read, I will make it a point to write his name as well. As they get older, I realize that the big difference and commonality in our relationship when they were babies and now, is language. I used an unspoken language (baby cues) to connect with them when they were younger (a few friends still call me a baby-cue goddess. ha!), and now there are endless open and heartfelt conversations and little letters.
When we first brought Oak home from the hospital, my friend Lindsay gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received as a parent, “When River needs you and Oak is crying, just speak to Oak as if he’s an adult. Tell him you’re helping River right now, that she needs you, and you will be with him once you are finished.” I immediately started to do this and noticed the difference it made! Once, while I was zippering her up in our apartment hallway and Oak was about a month or two old, she said back to him, ” Oak Mommy is helping me. She will be with you so soon.” Her response filled me with an enormous amount of confidence. She heard me! She felt heard! She felt like what she needed was of importance (and it was). Oak was a baby, he was always fed, bathed, changed, and loved, so crying for a moment was just a part of his language as well.
Do you write letters to your kids? Are there any other special ways you connect while you are away?