Sunday, January 11, 2009

"So That I Know I Did Something Today"

My vibrant mother-in-law and I sat down one morning before the children were up (she was visiting us for the holidays) and talked about goal-setting, among other things.

One of the things she encouraged me to do was to write down everything I did that day before I went to bed.  This action would remind me that I'm active and every day doing things that matter.  That the big scary 'to do' list that doesn't get enough check marks and constantly reminds me what I haven't done needs to be replaced with the what I have done list.

And so on January 2nd I compiled this list before retiring:

1.  I re-added a blog roll list to my Insane Parents Unite! blog. I lost all my features when I tried to change the layout.

2.  played Parchessi and Uno with Robert.

3.  Read a few Garfield comics to Robert.

4.  Read 2 chapters of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH to Aubrey.

5.  Took Aubrey to SpiralScouts meeting.

6.  Watch "The Shipping News" for myself.

7.  Finished straightening and organizing my office!  Hooray for me! (I wanted to spend all day in there just being in the clean space.)

8.  I hurt Robert today and he cried. (Of course this is all I remembered of the day.) He wouldn't let go of another child's toy and the child's father intervened and requested Robert give it back twice. By the time I got there I was so embarrassed at his ill behavior  that I squeezed his hand with my thumb nail (which I keep extremely short, for the record) until he let go for the pain of it.

When we got home I hugged him and kissed him and apologized for hurting him. I took full responsibility. I said it was very wrong of me to do and did it because I couldn't think of anything else to do.  That I was embarrassed and did he forgive me?

I don't think he did.

But we hugged a bit more and played a game afterward.

I feel like a failure.  I'm trying so hard to teach Robert to ask for help when he feels angry or frustrated; that it's not ok to use violence to get what you want or to prove a point; and look what I did today.

What if I've scarred him so that he has emotional wounds? Perhaps he won't trust me anymore. Perhaps he'll feel so wounded and hurt that he'll hole up inside himself and never trust the outside world again. He'll be alone and afraid and so depressed he may kill himself.

Because I hurt him.


Because this wasn't the first time I've lost my temper or gotten so frustrated I've grabbed him, or forcefully put him on the couch or his bed, or brushed his teeth for him, or pulled him by the arm to where I wanted him to be.

It's so undignified -- for both him and me. I wish on the Mother Goddess -- whom I apply to for strength and wisdom -- that I never had done any of these things nor that I ever will again.

I want to be the mom that instead of physically hurting and emotionally (and publicly) humiliates a child, would quietly go to him, gently stroke his hand, explain the situation and my perception as I saw it then ("You want to try this toy before you leave, don't you? You saw how much fun Aubrey was having and you wanted a turn, too.") and together resolve it. ("Would you like to see how it works and try it out while I load the car? And then we'll go?")

That kind of mom I would be proud to be.

Instead I am stuck with old parenting brain of being embarrassed when other parents see me lose control of my children.

I wonder if I can look up online some tools to use regarding opposition or defiance.

Because when Robert feels trapped in a corner and out of control -- whether because he's so wound up he can't calm down by himself or because an adult has taken his power away, he becomes oppositional and defiant.

Now the object is to prevent him from feeling out of control and trapped in a corner, but once he's there, how can I help diffuse the situation?

9.  I sat at the dinner table with Robert, Aubrey and Steve and had dinner together.

10. I snuggled and nurtured Robert when he woke early this morning -- despite my desire to go back to bed.

11. I made sure Robert had toys and food before going over to Shane's house (and during, too) to head off any food melt-downs.

12. I talked to Robert about Shane not letting Robert play with his things and why and we (along with Aubrey) brainstormed some ideas and role-played them.  (I think I talked too much.)

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