What a day. Well, really, it wasn’t much activity – church, brunch with friends, naps, a mother-son trip to the library, dinner and bed. It seems relatively uneventful, but it’s in the mundane and the ritual that life seems to develop.
First, Miss M had a rough one. She wasn’t thrilled with being left in the nursery, and I wasn’t excited to leave the lone nursery volunteer with her, needing to be held, among other needy toddlers, so she came to class with us. All was fine and well until she found me hilarious but then fell over while laughing. Either the chair or the floor pushed her only 2 teeth into her upper lip. And there was blood. All three of us were marked. Sheesh. Later, all in good sport, H Boy shut the bathroom door and then tried to reopen it. Both actions took place with her fingers beneath the door. No blood, but marks. I nearly wanted to give her a bowl of ice cream to drown the pain. Am I a bad mom if I refrained simply because I wanted to eat the ice cream myself? (I’m only mostly joking here). The green beans seemed to suffice.
However, among the thrills and spills, we had a few breakthrough moments with H boy. First, we learned that he likes to do his pooping business in solitude. Even an audience of one hinders his performance. More than once he’s ventured into the bathroom alone to complete the task (mostly without telling us first), so we felt confident after the 4th time of saying “potty” but not actually producing, to just send him in alone. In less than 3.2 seconds, there was poop. We can respect a guy that knows his needs.
Later, in conjunction with the door-shutting-and-reopening incident, we sat him down to “think about what happened” as is our custom. I see it as a minute to stop the situation and draw attention to the fact that unacceptable behavior just occurred. We typically ask him, “why are you sitting here?” only to get a programmed “uh huh” agreement, a vain effort of appeasing in order to be done with the sitting. However tonight I showed him Miss M’s hand and said that it really hurt her when he shut the door. He replied, “sister hand… hurt.” Then he took her hand and kissed it, just like he wants his mommy and daddy to do to make things better. For the first time ever, I felt like he had an idea that we weren’t just upset with what he did, but he had hurt someone and needed to not do that something anymore. Of course, I fully expect a stomped finger or pulled hair in the next 24 hours, but it doesn’t quell my excitement for progress. I’m okay with baby steps when they come from babies.
I capped off the evening with some non-fiction reading; at the recommendation of my sister I got Parents, Kids and Power Struggles from the library. Only recently has H boy been showing some signs of non-acquiescence (most commonly about putting on his coat or holding my hand in the parking lot) and I’d like to get a bit of a running start on the adverse behavior. I’d love to think that my kids, with my perfect genes, would just never disagree, but the realist in me says that at some point I will be That Mom dragging a screaming toddler out of Kroger while leaving a cart 3/4 filled with food. Ok, you’re right – not just a screaming toddler, but 2 crying younger ones because they’re not ready to leave yet. Minor details.
So in my recreational but yet educational reading, it was enlightening to learn how to deal effectively with emotions – both my kids’ and my own. Nothing in it is new, but when applied to parenting situations, especially disagreements, it makes complete sense. Something causes my kid to refuse to listen; yes, he’s 2, but he’s feeling something that prompts him to react. So the book is about helping kids become aware of their feelings and finding appropriate ways of dealing with it. But it starts with me… how I deal with my emotions of frustration, anger and disappointment can translate into my kids’ version of acceptable behavior. So, in all, it’s great stuff to draw your attention to and think over for a time. I found myself asking husband “how do I react when…?” and “what are my triggers to…?” It’s also eye-opening to think about it in terms of behaviors you’ve seen in others that you want to replicate or avoid.
So, if you’re thinking that I’m in a bit of a reflective mood, you’d be guessing correctly that yes, my husband has tuned me out to zone in on some Angry Birds. Which is my alarm clock telling me it’s time to hit the hay. We’ve got a big week ahead of us.