Our 4 year old, Owen, was very angry about something, and he bolted to his room and locked the door. He jumped into bed and screamed for me to, “Go away! I don’t like you Mommy! Go away!” In the past, I was at such a loss of what to do when Owen closed the door.
I remembered a suggestion from our teacher, Tom, in a Starter Class on Building Emotional Understanding parenting class to have closeness with Owen even through a closed door. I quickly grabbed a small notebook and pen, scribbled, “Dear Owen, I love you, Love Mommy” on a sheet of paper, and shoved it under the door. I told Owen that I had sent him a note under the door. He replied that he couldn’t see it, so I told him to go to the door to find it.
I heard him scramble to the door. I crept down very close to the bottom edge of the door and asked, “Do you see the note?” Owen replied, yes, and already I felt a bit better that we were at least communicating. I said I was writing more notes. I slipped two more under the door: “Dear Owen, I’m not mad, Let’s hug! Love Mommy” and “Mommy loves Owen very much” written beside a picture of a heart.
I was still worried about Owen feeling upset because he was quiet for what seemed a long time. Then I saw a note slowly appear from under the door. I read it aloud: “DEAR MOMMY I LOVE YOU LOVE OWEN.” I grew teary reading it, just so glad and relieved that my son was feeling some connection with me, even though he had been so angry.
Unexpectedly, Owen opened the door, smiled, and promptly hugged me on the floor. Then he quickly closed the door again and asked me to send him some more notes!
I told Owen that I needed to get more paper from the printer in my room. As I came back with sheets of paper, he had again opened the door. I thought he looked a little concerned, maybe because I briefly had left him. He closed the door, and I wondered if he was still upset.
But a quick moment later, I saw a pair of his scissors appear from under the door. I guess he wanted me to cut my paper to make smaller note cards.
I also received another note from him: “DEAR MOMMY I LOVE MOMMY TO LOVE OWEN LOVE OWEN”
After a few more notes, Owen opened the door a third time. We sat on the floor with Owen snuggling in my lap to read out loud some of our notes together.
The next morning, when Owen came into my room, I asked what he would like to do for our Special Time, he replied with a big smile: “Mommy, my most favorite fun thing to do is write notes under the door!”
And that is what we did!
– a mom in San Jose, CA
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