…a pinhole look into the life of one not-so-ordinary girl.
Sometimes it’s hard to get a grip on this thing parenting.
Sometimes I hardly know what to do. If one of my children says a new (unwanted) word or behaves in a way to me or (always to my horror) someone else I think, “Seriously, you know better than that!”. But, in all honesty, if it’s something new, they don’t know better than that. They categorize things just like we do as adults. They think, “I got in trouble for clenching my fists at Mom the other day, but will I also get in trouble for gritting my teeth?” Fists and teeth… is it the same thing? No. Am I trying to correct just a behavior? No. Am I trying to correct the heart of the issue — trusting my judgment above their own when I’m telling them they should? Yes. Will they need that lesson over and over for it to finally sink in and become a behavior? Yes.
Just like we do as adults.
We overstep boundaries and inflict insult over and over with our words and behavior until we do it enough or hurt someone in such a way that it finally sinks in. And then longer for it to become a behavior.
For months, we’ve been preparing our 4yr old, Posie, to clean her own room. Once a child reaches four years old in our house, they are expected to clean up messes in their room without much assistance (a reasonable mess that they made on their own in the course of a day — not a huge mess that someone else made with them or a mess that has lingered and grown over a week or more).
Posie does not like cleaning up her room. Let me rephrase. Posie does not like cleaning up her room alone nor does she like cleaning it up when no one else has a mess to clean up. It’s reasonable, really. It’s a rare breed of people who like to clean up messes alone or at an inconvenient time.
It’s completely acceptable for her to not like it, and for her to tell me that. It’s completely not acceptable for her to throw a tantrum about it. You know the kind, I’m sure. No need to explain.
As I said before, sometimes I hardly know what to do. Sometimes, on magical days that occur when God knows I need it, I get an idea. And not just any idea, I get an idea that when played out always works out to my sanity’s advantage.
Yesterday, Blaise skipped school (with his parents’ blessing). He and Posie were getting on so well in the morning but soon after 10am they began to get petty. I fed them lunch and sent them to their rooms for some quiet time with a good attitude on my part (as a parent, you must boast about good attitudes in troubled times because it is truly a victory). They each in turn kept calling me to their rooms to ask if they could get out. I obliged them with an answer until I began to get annoyed. I stood in my living room, looking into Posie’s room wishing it were clean, when the idea hit me.
I called for Blaise and Posie and they both came to stand in front of me. I said, “I’ll make a deal with you. If you both clean Posie’s room together you don’t have to rest in your rooms anymore. But you (Posie) have to help Blaise clean his room this weekend.”
Their faces looked as if I had offered them a shopping spree to a toy store! They got straight to work. Posie had to be reminded to clean up a few times because she was so excited to have Blaise helping her she kept trying to show him different toys. “And Bwaise remembuh this?”
After only 15 minutes, her room was clean and their bad attitudes were nowhere to be found. I must say, it was one of the best parenting ideas I’ve ever come up with. Posie’s room got cleaned, Blaise’s will this weekend (it’s a bigger mess than Posie’s), their attitudes changed, and (bonus!) they’re learning how good it makes one feel to be generous and help a sista/brotha out!
What an adventure every day. In my own home no less!
— Stay tuned for future post: Hesper’s Birth Story!–