Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 53: Hand in the Hunny Pot

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.

Jackson's favorite activity as of recent is rummaging through the pantry. He builds towers out of cans and jars, he "cooks," and he "organizes" it for me. His other new favorite is drinking out of a shot glass he found in the basement cupboards (I definitely never envisioned that when I bought the old college relic!). Today he decided to combine his two favorites into one new, exciting activity.

We had just gotten home, so I was letting Max potty before starting lunch. Jackson was in the kitchen waiting patiently and playing with his little cooler. Or so I thought.

I heard the pantry door open, but thought nothing of it. He's never really gotten into any trouble in there. Then I heard a jar hit the counter. I figured he was organizing again and just had to get some things out of the way so he could rearrange. Then it was quiet. Too quiet.

I got Max dressed and rushed to the kitchen where I saw Jackson with the shot glass to his lips, a noticeably less full, dripping jar of honey sitting next to him. All I could think about were the little candida cells inside him throwing a party because their famine was over.

Cue the slow-motion: I yelled, "Nooooooo!" and yanked the glass from his hands. Unfortunately this was followed up by a frantic and too loud, "Jackson, oh no! Why did you eat the honey!? How much did you eat? It's not okay to just grab things and eat them! This is so bad!"

This reaction was understandably met with tears. He didn't know that I wasn't calling him bad. He didn't know that I wasn't disappointed in him. So I gave him a hug and had to explain that I wasn't upset with him, that sweet foods made his itchies come back and I reacted so strongly because I was worried about that, not because of him.

He quickly recovered and explained that he was Pooh Bear drinking honey from the bees. I can just imagine his excitement when he found the hunny pot and transformed into his chubby-little-cubby alter ego. That spontaneous, effortless leap into imaginative play must feel exhilarating. And that must have made the abrupt and intense interruption even more alarming.

I want to be responsive, not reactive. Reactivity is explosive, even when I don't mean it to be. It's scary and confusing for Jackson when I react. But when I respond, he understands, he feels understood, and he learns.

Ultimately this has everything to do with control versus trust, but that shift is going to be a long process. In the meantime, I'll be searching for ways to catch myself in the split-second moment between recognizing what's happening and reacting to it.

Maybe cultivating a habit of turning around and walking away to process would help, but sometimes a situation requires immediate intervention. What helps you cage your reaction so you can thoughtfully respond?

1 comment:

  1. Honestly, and this is why my house is a mess, if I feel I am not ready to respond I wait. Even when I hear weird things and suspect there is a giant mess happening, I just wait until I am ready to deal with it.

    If leaving a mess is going to cause you more anxiety, though, it's not worth it. Stopping the problem in simple terms (communicate like you would with a child in a tantrum) and then coming back to talk about it later. That way the mess is not spreading but there is time to come out of the reactive moment.