Tag Archives: Emotions

Someone Broke Her Funny Bone

The girl’s discovered a new game – thanks to Daddy. For the past several nights we’ve had to play doctor. Before you get concerned, it’s not that kind of doctor. First someone must be injured in some way (pretend), then Mommy or Daddy give an ambulance ride on our back (Eoo, Eooo) around the house a few times. Then we diagnose the injury.

“Oh, no. Someone broke her funny bone. There’s only one cure…Tickles.”

We then proceed to tickle from head to toe, briefly. We stop and ask if they’re okay. They dissolve into fits of giggles and declare their funny bone’s still broken. This goes on until Ryan’s completely tired out and ready for bed. By then the girls’ve received enough love to allow daddy some space.

When it’s time for bed, everything runs smoothly. They ask for their story, they fall sleep. Easy. They’re secure in our love – and that makes all the difference.

We have many variations on this type of game. Another one we play quite often has been around since Agatha was about 6 months old. I’d hold baby in front of me, facing out, and we’d chase Ella around the house. When we caught her, baby would tackle Ella and we’d tickle her. Then it’d be Ella’s turn to chase us. I’d periodically turn so baby could see Ella, then with a squeal we’d turn and flee. This game helped the girls bond in such a wonderful way. It also wore them out in such a wonderful way. We now play this with Cordelia chasing the big girls. It helps put them all on even footing. It’s a game that allows everyone to play, and there’s no competition because everyone WANTS to get caught. After all, that’s the fun part.

We have many fights during our days.  “She took my toy.” “I want her toy.” “She’s sitting on me!” the list goes on. But ultimately those dissolve into nothing when faced with the many ways our girls do play together. They’ve both had moments where they don’t like the other – and that’s okay – because they overwhelmingly love each other.

If children can move beyond conflict by playing with each other, don’t you think parents can move past conflict by playing with their children?

 

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I Won’t Settle For Mud

Someone stirs. Light blinds me as my eyes crack open. Time doesn’t matter – it’s too early. Anytime is too early. One child or another woke up multiple times over the night. I need more sleep, or want it. Somedays I’m not sure. In the moment before my eyes open for the day, I crave it. But there’s nothing to be done, the girls are hungry. I already feel guilty that I say ‘wait’ more often than I care to admit. Just so I can climb out of bed slower.

I pick the baby up and walk down the hall toward the stairs. I envision myself tripping over… something. I switch her to my left hip. Farther from the railing. One. Two. Three. Down the stairs. I’m careful to step to the left side of the curve, I don’t want to fall. We survive the walk down the stairs and I place the baby on the floor. Double check to be sure there are no small bits in a three foot radius around her, I give her a toy, check to be sure here are no loose bits or broken pieces. I walk to the kitchen. I can’t quite see her hands, so I go back and re-adjust. I need to see her hands and face. I Don’t want her to inadvertantly grab something she shouldn’t have.

I wash the table and wish there were no bugs in the house. But the girls love them so I cringe and wash the table, and counters, again. A crumb drops on the floor, I sweep it up, but the broom was sticky and now the floor is likely sticky. Ella asks for breakfast. I tell her ‘just a minute’ I grab the cloth and wipe the floor. Rinse the cloth, ring, and hang it. Just so. Nothing should touch the counter, or risk getting the cloth wet. Bacteria will grow. I wash my hands and grab clean bowls from the dish washer. Pour the cereal and let the girls pour their own milk. Nothing spills. We’re all good.

I wash my hands.

I take my pills. While the girls eat, I clean. I can see where the bacteria grows. I can smell it. Our compost bin’s in dire need of washing. It’s been two days since I last washed it. With biodegradable soap. The girls ask for more food.

I wash my hands. We’ve been awake for roughly fifteen minutes.

I wash the fruit, cut the fruit, place it on clean plates. Then before bringing it to the table, I wash the table. Rinse the cloth, wring it, hang it. Just so. Wash my hands. The cloth wasn’t clean enough for me to handle food after touching t. The fruit is placed on the table.I take the dish cloths to the dirty clothes. Wash my hands. Get clean cloths.

The girls run off to play, food drops from their laps leaving a trail of crumbs behind them as they dash away from me. I clean. I want to bake some muffins. But I know the girls will want to help. I can’t handle raw egg, salmonella, on their hands today. I don’t want them to mix. Flour could get on the counter. There’d be a lot of cleaning. I’d get stressed, and grumpy. I can’t do it. Not today.I wash my hands. They’re probably dirty.

I cut up cheese, fruit, and veggies, and place some crackers on a plate. There’s plenty of food they can have, without stressing about germs or diseases.

I load the dishwasher. Just so. The water needs to cycle around the machine, get the dishes – just right, or they won’t be clean enough.

The girls bring  toys down to the livingroom. I cringe and try not to tell them to take them back upstairs. They just want to play, and be close to Mommy. They drop the toys and lay down on the floor next to Cordelia. They kiss her and cuddle her. They pull her arms this way and that. She smiles and coos. She loves them. But then something happens. Agatha grabs her and hugs her extra hard, then lets her head flop to the floor. She cries.

I dash over and pick her up. Agatha tries to comfort her, but her hugs only make things worse. The look on her face lets me know she’s upset and didn’t mean to hurt Cordelia. But I can’t bite back my words. “You hurt her, step away.” I turn away from her while I cuddle Cordelia. Agatha cries heartbreaking tears. I get angry. I’m angry at her, I’m angry at myself. I’m tired and I can’t stop myself. But I should be able to stop it. I shouldn’t snap. I should foster the love the girls have for each other, instead I push them apart.

I feed Cordelia and the girls ask for shows. I turn the T.V. on and am thankful for the break. It’s 8 O’clock in the morning and I’m already thankful for a break. Luckily we aren’t going anywhere, otherwise I’d also need to get everyone dressed, and snacks packed, but then there’d be no T.V. otherwise we’d never get out the door.

The phone rings, I get up, Cordelia bites me. I wince as I hurry to grab the phone before it completely wakes her up. I step on a wooden block. I scream at the girls to pick them up or there’ll be no more shows.Ella says, “Soprry Mommy.” as she dashes to comply.

The day continues much like that, until Ryan gets home or wakes up. If he’s on nights the evening is a bit smoother, but once the girls are asleep all kinds of thoughts enter my head. I need to double, triple check the doors and windows. The alarm needs to be on. Upstairs Ella’s window and the playroom windows need to be closed. In case someone with a large ladder decided to break into our home and climb in from the garage roof. As I lay in bed willing myself to sleep I think of what I’d do if the house caught fire. How I’d get all three girls out – in less than three minutes. I figure out what I’d do if someone broke in. A baseball bat can do a decent amount of damage, so can a knife, but then so could that metal framed baby chair. Hmm which would give us enough time to get out of there? What if one of those hares that hop around outside tuned out to be a killer bunnie. What if it decided to eat us? Okay, I might not really think about that one, but now that it’s in my head – who knows.

Not everyday is like this. In fact right now I’m doing pretty good. Since becoming aware of these thought patterns, I’m better able to stop and calm down before I let them get the better of me. I still wash my hands.

For me, I have to let go of the clean home. If I begin cleaning, I contine cleaning. If I’m cleaning, they can’t pull out more toys. We fight. They cry and I feel horrible.

Somedays it takes a lot of effort. Other days those toys come down the stairs, I leave the room. I take a few minutes in an orderly space and talk myself through the mess. Tell myself what it means to them. Remind myself that toys on the floor are okay, smiles on little faces are more important. Most days I succeed and we move on without the girls knowing what went through my mind. Other days, when my blood work is off (thyroid) or I’m excessively sleepy, it takes a lot more effort to stay in control of myself. On those days I can only handle so much before I snap. On those days I try to arrange our day to allow me as much time as possible to adjust my thoughts. If we’re out, I take lots of time getting places, and getting home. I wait until they’re ready to go before herding them to the van – if they’re not fighting, I’m not fighting and vice versa. When home I try to set them up with an activity that’ll keep them occupied without infringing on my warped space.

It’s taken me a long time to figure out what most of my triggers are, to allow myself the freedom to have  a messy house. To know that htose thoughts aren’t ‘me’ and to get passed them. I know things are heading in the right direction when everyone in our home smiles more than they frow, and laughs more than they cry.

Some days I parent like this. Somedays I can’t stop myself, but those aren’t my ideal. Those aren’t even the most common. But they happen, and I try to learn from them. But mostly I try to survive them. I know they won’t last forever, I know my girls will recover. It’s important to me that Ryan points out when I’m out of line. It’s even more important that both Ella and Agatha tell me. Most recently they’ve began telling me to stand on my head when I’m grumpy. It works. By the time I’m on my head I’m over being grumpy. It also provides an opportunity to reconnect with them, despite harsh words. But they shouldn’t need to regulate me, they shouldn’t feel responsible for my moods. They should be free to love, laugh, play, make messes. One day they will be. For now I shelter them, and myself, from others who see nothing wrong with the things I say or do when I’m upset. It’s hard enough to parent without others telling me to settle for less than I aim for.

Sure, if I aim for the stars, I may not get them, but I certainly won’t settle for mud.

 

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Get Closer to Your Children…By Stepping Away

A few days ago our family enjoyed a wonderful day out together. Our day started early but even so the girls were not ready to go home when we thought it was time. So we stopped at an old playground (it was positively scary – very unsafe : ) and let the girls run and play. The twisty slide was a hit with Agatha, though I kept envisioning her falling backwards off the ladder, Ryan laughed at me and told me to play with Ella. Smart man.

Nothing would’ve been accomplished by my hovering near Agatha. I might have warned her to be careful, to keep her grip tight, to climb faster, slower, or not at all. As it was I never said anything, she climbed happily, and never fell.

Ella and I went to the monkey bars.

These particular bars were huge, an arch – at the highest point it was more than six feet off the ground – I could dangle under them. I climbed up them quickly with Ella close behind. As I reached the top I realized how far down the ground was, as well as how awkward it was to change directions at the top of the arch.

It had to be too difficult for Ella.

She told me to move out of her way. If I was up there, then she wouldn’t be able to do it by herself. I promised not to talk or touch her, but I wanted to be there in case she needed me. She paused, but agreed.

As she reached the top she appeared to be about to continue all the way over hands, and head, first. But she realized that wouldn’t work and stopped to think. In seconds she began moving again trying to balance both feet and both hands on a single bar to turn.

From this point, the spectacular part is not that she managed to change directions on her own, without my input at all. It isn’t important how she changed directions, what is important is the monologue she kept up when the going got tough.

“Come on Ella, you can do this. It’s just something to climb. You can do this, you can do this….” until she was fully turned around and on her way down. She did it. The biggest smile I’ve ever seen lit up her face. It’s possible that if I interfered, then she wouldn’t have been able to do it. I also might not have seen her smile.

The next day I heard a thump and Agatha crying. When I entered the room my initial focus was not where it should have been and Ella believed I blamed her for Agatha being hurt. She left the room crying – and talking, “It’s always my fault, nothing I do is right, I just want to help, but nothing turns out the way I want it to.” (Please note that this monologue was almost verbatim to something said in a show that day).

Not all children will talk aloud, but I do believe what I heard is a typical internal monologue for the age (4.5) the words used will reflect their own experiences, but the meaning behind them, the feeling is likely the same for most children.

When faced with a difficult task they can talk their own way through it, and it’s important that they do. If I interfered and told Ella how to climb over the arch I would have suggested a different manner than she actually used. It may not have been successful. If it wasn’t, she might believe she couldn’t do it, that she wasn’t capable. It could reinforce to me that she wasn’t ready and then I might interfere more. By not telling her how to do it, or worse telling her not to, we both saw that she could do it on her own. It was difficult, but she didn’t give up.

The other monologue gave me a lot of information. Most importantly it let me know that, even though the conclusion she reached was incorrect, the words and tone/volume of voice deeply effected her. If I had entered the room calmer, I would have realized they were just playing and helped both of them feel better. Instead I burst into the room demanding to know what happened. Luckily I didn’t go so far as to blame anyone – on that front I have been doing much better since deciding blame isn’t necessary.

No parenting book is necessary to realize that by assuming the worst actually made the entire situation worse. If I’d assumed the best of my children, then everything would have been smoothed over faster and easier. And, more importantly, their trust in me would not have been damaged in any way.

Parents have so much influence on their children, but the question is: Should we have as much influence as we do? Might our relationships be better, our children more successful, if we stepped back more than we do?

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Fish or flowers?

I have the most amazing husband ever! I’m not gonna tell you what he got me for mother’s day – until it arrives and I have a chance to try it out. Though I will tell you he also bought me flowers. Gorgeous flowers. Growing in a pot.

I was upstairs changing Cordelia and the girls were downstairs playing with their toy penguin. When I came down, flowers and leaves littered the table and floor. The lecture started. But I stopped and asked the girls to sit while I calmed down. I took a couple breaths and asked what they’d been trying to do. Apparently their penguin was hungry and needed pink and green fish to eat. Naturally only flowers and leaves would do.

I let the girls know I was upset, but I understood it was important for their penguin to eat. Instead of going out to the playground, I made them fish. They were slightly upset about not going to the playground, but also very excited about fish.

First I need to mention I’ve never made something like this before. I also didn’t have a pattern. So by no means are these perfect, and when I make the next ones I’ll make a few changes, but for now the girls love them. After the girls chose colours,  I drew out what I hoped would turn into fish.The girls took their own supplies and stitched and cut while I worked.

I used embroidery floss and craft felt. All total it took me roughly an hour and a half per fish from start to finish. That includes time needed to completely forget a piece necessitating unstitching and restitching. It also includes time to completely tangle and untangle the floss. And time for help. Completely doable in an afternoon, unless you add in the time it takes to feed the children, clean crushed something or other off the floor, read a story or two, wash fingers, faces, floors, walls, and table. That stretches the time to two afternoons.

Poor sick Ella loves her fish, Agatha will get hers when she wakes up in the morning.

I actually had fun making them, and am looking forward to a few changes for the next one. Ryan suggested gills, I want to add scales with a blanket stitch, and figure out how to fix the dorsal fin. It doesn’t sit right, but I’m not sure how it should sit. Any suggestions?

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I Have a Treasure, Not Made of Gold

James P. Sullivan roared. Boo screamed and ran away terrified.

What do your children see when you scream at them?

Disney/Pixar's Monster's Inc.

If this is what they see, do you think they can effectively listen to you? Are they likely to learn from the situation?

There are times I tend to yell. When I’m tired, feeling rushed, when I’m doing something I don’t want to stop doing.

But if I yell, I put a barrier between me and my children. Looking at MY triggers it’s easy to see they really are mine, not my children’s.

If I’m tired, I have less patience. A little spill. Something expected for the age, becomes a big deal. I want the mess prevented in the first place, not just cleaned up. I tend to yell. I tell the girls to clean up. I yell at them because I have more mess to clean. But nothing is solved.

I could take a deep breath and say “Oh-oh, the juice spilled on the floor, can you help clean it up?” They’d probably happily help and we’d continue our day happy. Yelling ruins everyone’s day.

If I’m running late for an appointment I want the girls to hurry. I want them to put their shoes on, I want them to go potty, I want to find my lost ten minutes and end up blaming the girls. But can it be their fault? Aren’t I the one who’s supposed to get us up on time. Isn’t it my job to have everyone fed, dressed, and ready to go? If so, then why do I blame them? Why do I yell. It’s my problem not theirs.

If I kept it my problem, we’d all leave the house in a better mood. We might still be late, but we’d be happy and the rest of the day would run smoother.

What about when I’m making dinner? Food needs to be made, everyone needs to eat. It’s reasonable that I ask them to give me space. Isn’t it?

No it isn’t. Not all the time anyhow. In fact most of the time, I should stop and give them my attention. If they need company, they can help me make supper. If they need a snack, they need it NOW, not in an hour. If I stop what I’m doing long enough to get them a snack it’ll only push dinner back fifteen minutes max, so what’s the big deal?

Those are little issues, easy to solve. What about big issues? Someone gets hurt, someone needs my help telling her sister to let go, to stop taking toys. Is it fair to not only tell them I’m unavaibale, but also to yell at them?

No. When they aren’t capable of solving their problems it’s up to me. I can let them know I’m there, available to help them, love them.

How would you feel if you asked for help and the person you asked started yelling at you? Scared, sad, hurt, angry? None of those emotions help you solve your problem, none of them give you confidence. So why do we create those emotions in our children, and expect them to grow and learn from them?

It’s unrealistic.

Today I challenge myself. For one week I will not yell at my children. I will find other ways of letting them know my thoughts and feelings. I will show them how much they mean to me, even when I don’t like their actions. From Sunday to Sunday I will take a deep breath and remain calm with my precious girls.

My Precious Treasures

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Thanks, But No Thanks

I have a problem that’s bothered me for over four years now. The longer it sits and festers, the worse I feel about it. The worse I feel about myself – and certain others. I want to make this problem go away, but have no idea what to do, without hurting someone.

While pregnant with our first we were given advice. Unwanted advice. Advice that went against all current research. Advice that was at least twenty-five years old. We smiled and nodded and figured it didn’t matter if we listened or not, it wasn’t anyone’s business, but our own, how we parented.

It never occurred to us that we’d have to deal with that decision for the next 4+ years. Why, I ask myself, didn’t I tell the person they were wrong and that we neither appreciated, nor wanted their advice?

I didn’t, because my husband has a more gentle soul than I do. He requested that I just keep quiet. This approach worked well with other advice givers. No point getting anyone upset with us when we’re entering a period of our lives when love, help, and support would be really beneficial.

Ryan really is wise sometimes. Though this decision has backfired a hundred times over. Even to the point of creating a lot of tension in our relationship. Now instead of merely trying to TELL us how to parent, the person in question tries to show us how to parent our own children.

Once Ella fell and scraped her hand (there was blood). She started to cry, so I picked her up and started to cuddle her. This person steps in and says, “Oh, no need to cry, you’re not hurt. Show us you’re a big girl.”

Ella rarely cries when she falls over, when she does it’s a big deal. She might be tired or hungry, unable to cope with spills as easily, but she could also be hurt. Either way, if her first reaction is crying, I respond. She might be hurt more than seems apparent to me. Even if she isn’t, I can’t tell her how much pain she feels. Telling a crying child there’s no reason to cry is cruel. Obviously they feel like there’s a reason. Who am I to tell my child whether she should feel sad, angry, happy, or indifferent?

Personally, if I fall hard enough to bleed, I cry. So why is a toddler expected to ‘suck it up’?

I can understand waiting to react, until you know what a small child’s reaction might be. Some children look to mom and dad to find out how to respond in a certain situation. I do the same thing. No point in panicking if my little girl isn’t upset. However if she is upset, I respond.

There are other ways this person tries to show, or tell us how to parent. We have very different ideals. We also want very different outcomes. But even if we wanted the same outcome, it doesn’t mean we’d have to do things the same way. After all science has since proven certain methods of parenting are more successful than others.

Ultimately it comes down to the fact that these are my children. I am their mother, I might take advice from some people, but it is my choice to accept or not. Just as others can take my advice or not.

My question for you is: When someone (close friend or family member) doesn’t take the hint to back off, how do you tactfully tell them to mind their own business and to respect your way of parenting?

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