“Stop hitting your brother”……silence…no reply….behaviour continues… “Are you listening, can you please leave your brother alone”……not listening, behaviour continues….. “You are not listening to me, this is the last time I am going to say this”…..still not listening and certainly not the last time you’re saying this.
How often I find myself in these same conversations, mostly between myself and the wall. Be it about them teasing or hitting each other, not sharing, not eating their dinner, asking for food, leaving the table, asking for food, not flushing the toilet, asking for food, putting pasta in their drink, pouring said drink on their plate, farting on each other, taking each others toys, picking their nose, getting out of bed, getting into bed, not wiping bum, being too loud, aiming toys at each others foreheads, putting shoes on, putting coat on, throwing worms, throwing snails, roaring at neighbors, roaring at strangers, calling people names, …..need I go on? Its constant. From the moment they wake until they eventually go asleep. So it isn’t a surprise to say that this is definitely the most trying part of parenting.
Figuring out how to handle this situation or another. In most cases, we are on the right track. But in others, we are not exactly sure what is the right course of action. What I have come to learn in the last few years, is that a lot of the time, disciplining is the most difficult in the moments where we are at our most vulnerable. When we are tired or sick, it is so much harder to parent. We cannot discipline with the same patience as when we are 100% and we most certainly are not 100% all the time. Our childrens’ behaviour goes up and down as does our energy levels.
They have those fantastic days when they are sharing well, remembering to wash their hands or simply not darting off as soon as the car door opens. Some days we notice them and acknowledge it, but more often we don’t. Through our own shortcomings we try to, but maybe not enough. Then there are the other times, where the crime is not too severe, but the patience is thin from our repetitive reminders. Lastly the whopper moments that nearly send you over the edge. These ones wear you down. The tough days. You swear you’re never bringing them anywhere again.
You wonder is anyone else’s kid doing this. And the truth is Yes. Of course they are. We all think our child is the only one behaving that way but they’re not. Thank God for the ‘Village’. The village of women around me, for it is through them I keep my sanity. “Oh yes my Johnny did the exact same thing last week”, or “You think thats bad?, sure she lay there on the floor for twenty minutes because there was no green bowl”. To simply know you are not alone in your craziest moments of parenting is such a lifeline. To know that certain behaviours are normal and that eventually they will stop calling people ‘Poo Poo Head’ at first introduction or point out loudly that they have boobies. Sometimes its just nice to know that Johnny also peed in the sand table.
You inform them, you remind them and then you warn them. “I am going to count to 3..” You feel it rise up inside you. 1…….no movement…..2….still no movement……they glance to see if you’re serious……3! They rush to complete your request or they stand there defiantly. When they rush, you sigh with relief of not having to parent to the next level of discipline, especially when you haven’t quite figured out your next move. But when they stand there defiant, feet firmly cemented, that’s the crucial moment. Do I rise to it or do I remain calm and firm. I definitely need to try to press pause now more often, try to make sure I get it right. We wont every time.
But we will try. Just like they are trying. We are all learning. We are learning to parent as we go, and they as children are learning to learn as they grow. And just as we don’t, they wont get it the first time either, or maybe even the fourth or fifth. But little Johnny, although he may continue to ask for food all day everyday, for the sake of his future relationships, will eventually learn to wipe that bum and stop pouring milk on his dinner. Because if we keep trying, so will they.