Our littlest one has been sick the last 2 days. Being sick, he wasn’t super talkative. My theory is that he has saved up all the questions he would have asked during that time and unleashed them on me this afternoon, when he finally started feeling better. Here are the questions he asked me within 20 minutes:
Why is the road always under us?
Why are there so many mountains?
What is that bus called again?
Why do some cars go on that side of the road?
How tall are firemen?
Is it safe for you to give a snack while going this fast?
How fast are we going?
How fast are the wheels going?
What does that yellow sign say?
How come we always have to put gas tanks in the car? (Gasoline is what meant, of course.)
And these were only the ones I could remember, because obviously you can tell that I was driving during this onslaught.
Do all kids have to reach a tipping point before they change their behavior? Is that maybe the definition of “tipping point”????? If so, maybe I should stop writing now, and maybe you are totally annoyed that I haven’t stopped yet. Our kids seem to need to go the distance in the tantrum department before they can slowly make their way back.
When we utilize “time out”, our littlest one is never able to get through the time out process (i.e. calming down, apologizing, etc…) until he hits his breaking point. He will sit there and laugh at us, jump up and down, grab anything that is within range, yell, and his newest thing is spitting, and that won’t end until he finally gets to crying. Once the crying starts, he has begun the final approach back to normalcy.
This happens in other cases too. At bedtime lately, he’s been a gem. He is so sweet and cuddly and compliant during the pajama, brush teeth, read books section, but once the lay down and be quiet part begins, he goes bananas, and starts flopping around and laughing; in general he completely loses control in an over-tired way, but we really don’t think he is over-tired because he naps well, and his bedtime is early.
At the dinner table it is a similar scene. He sits calmly for a while eating his dinner and then he likely loses interest, and starts to entertain. He gets VERY silly and cannot bring himself down; he spirals out of control and usually has to leave the table to get it back together. Sometimes his calming routine is successful and sometimes not.
It’s obnoxious. It’s frustrating. It’s sad. Sad because we feel we have to “get him to the point of crying” before it will be over. It doesn’t seem right.
As an elementary school teacher, I have had a lot of practice watching kids do work. Today I had a new experience. My kindergartner was assigned a state project for homework. He chose Tennessee, and was given the month of February to complete it. He is supposed to make a poster and may dress up for his presentation if he wants. Not surprisingly, there were clear instructions from the teacher that this was the child’s project and although we could help, we were not to do it for them. I had to smile, knowing that I have felt that way as a teacher before — frustrated that parents couldn’t let their kids do the work themselves, or maybe couldn’t get their kid to do it them self.
We spent Monday and Tuesday going to the library and finding information for the report. Today, we went to the store and he bought the poster board. He wasn’t super excited about the research part, but he was stoked to buy the poster board and get going on the project!
When we got home from the store, he immediately pulled out the SHARPIE markers and took aim at the cardboard. I successfully stopped him and managed to convince him to write in pencil first. Yikes. Close one. The whole of the morning felt like I was maintaining managed chaos.
He was so excited. But, I was in a constant state of nerves. I wanted to help him. I wanted to show him. I wanted to show him the “right way”. But, I held back. It was crazy hard. I did show him how to center the word “Tennessee”, but then he did it himself.
He was really motivated when I told him he could illustrate a picture of the soldiers from the Mexican War (notice the words in the middle bottom). I stayed away from the table, knowing that I needed to distance myself, so I didn’t influence.
It isn’t super easy to see here, but that green paper shows a battle. The many lines (that look a lot like grass) are soldiers. The little stick man is maybe the leader, and there is another army on the other side (which you can’t see because I took a lousy picture). He even made the US flag and the Mexican flag. I tried saying something like, “You have to make everything on the poster very clear, because people won’t understand otherwise.” His response: “I’ll just tell them.”
In the end, I couldn’t be more proud of what he accomplished, and how great it looks. He’s in kindergarten after all. But, man was it a lesson in self-restraint on my part. I can actually say I am proud of myself too. Gold star day for us….
Why do we give people “looks”? Specifically, I am referring to moms or soon-to-be-moms. I remember being pregnant and telling people that I planned to use cloth diapers. HOLY SMOKES! You would have thought that I had told people I was going to keep my baby in a dog crate and feed him through the metal bars! Cloth diapers were a huge trigger for those “looks”. Not everyone had a comment, but nearly everyone made a face — some were very positive and encouraged me, but most people scoffed and told me I was an idiot. Oh, it didn’t stop there either. Cloth diapers were nothing compared to Infant Potty Training. That was the one that put me in the loony bin, for sure. NO one could understand why I would take on such a ridiculous task. (You can look back at my earlier blog posts to determine for yourself if it was a good move.) What was next….I’m not sure, but I know the most recent one was when I started being open about our decision to homeschool, or at least partially homeschool. I got looks and comments, most of which were not nice.
Interestingly, as the years have gone on, some people have actually changed their view and openly admitted that they judged me and were mistaken. I love those people.
Again, why do we do this to each other? I am not innocent, as much I’d like to say that I am, I am not. I have given looks, but I regret every one of them. Looks hurt, especially pregnant women who are insecure and emotional in the first place. I think that the majority of moms and dads out there are doing their best to make the best decisions they can, given the circumstances and their knowledge.
I recently learned of a friend who is going to have a home birth. When I told her how excited I was for her, she told me that she got a lot of looks from people. I felt terrible, because I know exactly what that feels like — it sucks, and puts an unnecessary element of doubt in your mind.
I’m sure my friend will have people over the coming years who admit that they judged her, and that they shouldn’t have. Sadly, so many people won’t and those looks stay with us (especially us women). I am still bothered by a certain few people who were negative. It’s amazing what an affect a little “look” can have.
To that end, I recently made a mistake. Our kids made us Valentines, and they bought us Valentines. How sweet! I loved it. But, I admit that I didn’t make or buy anything for them. I’m horrible, I know. I did have a reason. I have had it in my mind that Valentine’s Day is really an adult holiday, and I couldn’t see giving in to the V-Day madness that happens in schools.
We had a lovely V-Day around here, but the next day, our son asked us why he and his brother didn’t get anything from us. We could have said that we didn’t really think the holiday was for them, but then we’d have to speak negatively about the things they did in school. I felt terrible because I have spent the last 5 years trying to teach the kids that the holiday is really just to show people how much you love them. A perfect example is that Brian made a Valentine for our dog a couple years ago. :) I guess I didn’t listen to my own words. So, yesterday I rectified it. The kids got their Valentines.
Do you give your kids Valentines?
What looks are you giving me right now?
Throwing toys, breaking picture frames, screaming, time outs, locking doors, slamming doors.
No. Today has not been our best day.