Sometimes… sometimes it feels like it just comes down to a few moments. There are so many moments that make up a day. One moment, someone complements you… and you are feeling elated for being noticed. In another moment, someone unjustly yells at you, and you are feeling deflated for the accusation and unjusticeness of it all. But, they are all just moments.
Two night ago, I had, what felt like, a successful parenting moment.
There are so many books, so many ideas, so many ways to parent. And, in this place I call home, so many of them fly in our faces daily… so many things with which to pick and choose. As a parent, I want my child to be successful, in however he defines that success. I want him to be kind. I want him to be thoughtful, courageous, and brave. I want him to have a good understanding of a moral and ethical right and wrong. I want him to be a strong communicator in which he will have power over his ideas. So, much, we want for our children.
And, often, I sit there looking at him, and my brain cannot help but flash forward to the moments that are to come – graduating from the various grades (K (done), 8th grade, senior year in high school, perhaps college or beyond?), working his first job, enjoying his first relationships. And, I come back from that flash forward into this moment – into the here and now – and I know that these choices, these actions are shaping those outcomes, for better or worse.
Some time ago, I realized that we all come from dysfunctional families. No family is perfect. Some families yell too much. Some families don’t say enough. Some families widdle away their monies on exotic vacations while others are so spendthrift, they enjoy little outside their homes. Some families are so afraid of the outside world, they shut their children in under the guise of protection. Some families are so afraid of being shut in, they expose their children to things they are perhaps not ready for…
And, where does our family fall? I would hazard a guess that we are somewhere in the middle, having experienced various extremes in our own lives, my husband and I hope to carve out a better future for our son.
And, I hope I had a successful parenting moment in that carving because there are so many moments that, when in reflection, I know I could have made a better choice.
We are clearing out the old, getting ready for the new. Three adults buzzing along, trying to get work done, and the six-year-old just wants to play. He had just got done helping me clear out a space, when he changed tactics and forgot “helper boy” and recalled “silly boy”. I went back in the house, and he turned the back lights off – so those working out back could not see – and then he gaily ran through the house and hid himself in his (old) closet.
We’ve had an awful lot of rule bending lately, and the line has moved. I know I need to keep the line firm. But sometimes, you just need to kick up your tired feet. But, is this the way he’ll behave on a job someday? So, I track him down. I am not angry so much as imbued with my parental duty. I walk as my feet echo in the bare room on the bare floors. I hear him giggle. I walk towards the giggle. I walk in his old room. All is quiet. I am certain he is… yes, he is – behind the door. I fumble for his hand, I have yet to say a word, and I grab it. He knows something is wrong. He resists. I grab hold of his coat, careful not to grab harshly onto his arm, trying to grab the hand, which has turned into a fist, instead.
We were discouraged from using this tactic previously. Yet, I am firm in its use, and continue to walk him.
We walk through the bedroom, the hall, the living room, into the kitchen. At which point he starts shouting, “No, no, no, you haven’t even told me what’s wrong!” (I prefer to seat him, talk, set timer, review, apologize, move on.)
I set him on the stool, “You have to have a timeout for being rude.”
The timeout ticks by. I get a few more items cleaned up. I go back to the kitchen and it’s nearly done. He pops up after the timer hits zero. We sit. We review. I remind him, twice, of what he did. He says he doesn’t know how, and resolves that he was trying to be silly or mean. I explain that the mean behavior is the rude behavior, and he has a Eurka! moment. He thinks, calmly now, “Oh, I understand,” legitimately understood.
There was no yelling. There was no gnashing of teeth. There was an exchange, and it was perhaps one of the most pleasant timeouts w’ve ever had.
Cheers to understanding. Cheers to a new year. Cheers to new beginnings.