Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day 30: A Better Day...Sort Of

I will choose to find a positive perspective under even the most negative circumstances.
I will choose acceptance over resistance.
I will choose to focus on the things I value about my children, not the things that drive me nuts.
I will choose to extend the same grace, love and forgiveness to myself that I try to lavish on my husband and children each day.

After sleeping on our fiasco from yesterday, I feel much better. I woke up with new resolve to find joy in our day no matter the circumstances. And whether it was the attitude adjustment or my body finally recovering from the weekend food splurge, the exhaustion and resistance I woke with yesterday were gone.

Circumstances today have proved to actually be very similar to yesterday, so why is it a better day? Because I decided it would be. It's that simple, and I am that much in control of how our days go. We had a baby wearing meeting this morning, and getting out of the house was as much of a struggle as yesterday. But instead of rushing, reprimanding and ignoring Jackson's needs, I chose to work with him.

He ran away when I said it was time to go potty (a requirement before we can leave the house), but I chose not to take it personally, not to see it as disrespect but as a way of communicating. Instead of trying to change his behavior from the outside with demands, I told him we were going to get goat's yogurt at the coop before our meeting, knowing that would motivate him internally. No potty meant no yogurt, and his love of yogurt won out. I had to remind him three more times as we were getting bundled up, and each time he chose yogurt. Handling it this way made me feel less pressure and anxiety, made him feel in control of his choice to go potty and get his jacket on, and saved us from a power struggle.

Our trip to the coop was pleasant, and he only needed a few reminders of how capable he was of staying close and keeping his hands on his mini-cart, much like last time. When we got to the library for our meeting, I let him run free for a few minutes, then tried to herd him to the meeting room. We teetered on the edge of a tantrum because he wanted to have the "earmuffs" (headphones connected to the computer), but I kept reminding him, "Talk first. Talk first." This is something we've been working on for a few months - talking first before he reacts to me or a peer, whether that means yelling, grabbing, or running away. A gentle reminder that the librarian doesn't allow yelling was enough to calm him down, and he decided it would be okay to try the earmuffs after our meeting was over.

After our meeting and "earmuff" time, we checked out our books and headed for the door. Again, a tantrum loomed as I tried to help him with his jacket. We went over the quiet rule and "talk first" again, then spent at least 5 minutes (which seemed like 30) discussing the things he wanted to do: read his new French book, listen to his French CD, watch his German and Spanish DVDs, make sushi rolls for lunch. Finally when he wasn't feeling resistance from me (which was probably still a surprise to him after yesterday), his own resistance faded and he happily put on his jacket because home was the place we could do all those things.

It takes time - a lot of time - to communicate this way and to involve him in every step of our day. I can choose to put my time and energy into him this way, knowing that the result is a happier, more confident little boy and a power struggle-free day, or I can allow time and energy to be drained from all of us by the negativity that results when a day is imposed on him.

It's a pretty easy choice when I look at the big picture, but some days, like yesterday, I get lazy and forget. I'm so glad he doesn't allow me to stay there. And I'm so proud that I've raised him to be confident enough to show me and even tell me when I've stepped away from where he and I both know we should be. He reacts the way he did yesterday because I've shown him that he deserves to be treated with respect, that he doesn't have to allow anyone, even me, to treat him in a way that isn't loving and kind. That's a huge victory, and the bright side I was missing last night.

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