Thursday, May 24, 2012
Because I am such a curious George and because I love people so much it is hard for me to control my people watching. When I was young my Mom said they would choose a seat for me facing the wall at restaurants to help minimize my people watching. It's no wonder I chose to become a Counselor. I am in awe of people, all people.
Today I encountered a Mom at the library who made it all but impossible to not listen in on. She had two children with her, probably around the ages of 4 and 6. Both children were whiny but not overly obviously so. This Mom must have been at her limit, like Yesterday. She was so over her kids. She broke so many rules. She was using way tooooooooo many words in trying to correct her children. And she kept scolding her son for whining and not talking respectfully and yet she was not using any respective language or tone with him. My heart ached more and more as I sat there. She was so loud and almost histrionic with her behaviors, drawing more and more attention to the situation. The drama went on and on. It moved from every corner of the library and climaxed at the check out counter where her son demanded to check out his own books and her daughter demanded a special bag to put her books in (although I couldn't hear their requests myself. I just heard her loud pronouncement of how annoying it was that they wanted these things). I actually felt her son grow smaller and smaller by the way she was talking to him. It was humiliating to draw in such a crowd to their struggle. He was being belittled by her non verbal and verbal expressions. It truly is not my desire to judge another person, not to mention an overwhelmed Mom. But as I sat there and listened I reflected on what I wanted to take from the experience.
No matter how frustrated, overwhelmed or tired I feel I want to talk respectfully to my children. I have to model respect so that my children can learn how to practice respect. There have been countless times where I cannot say I chose to do so. I usually have the most luck by taking a time out for myself. Today when Simon and I both started to lose our cool I took a time out by setting a timer for Simon to finish his lunch and went into the other room for five minutes to feed Walker. Not surprisingly some space allowed us both to gain some ground and we even ended up sharing some pleasantries through the walls.
I also realized that 99% of the time, it's best to remove a child from a situation that is going sour, especially in public. When Simon is out of control, for whatever reason, I get the best results by removing him from the situation. That poor Mom could have left the library and likely come back at a different time and had a much quicker and more enjoyable experience with her kids. This can be terribly inconvenient when I just want to finish my dinner at a restaurant, when I just have one or two more items I need at the store or when I have my mind set on getting something specific done. It might cost me another trip to the grocery for those last few items. It might cost me eating a cold lunch or dinner later on but it might allow us to gain some sanity and to model to Simon that there are limits. Boundaries in Parenting are awesome! Consequences for not obeying are always a great solution. Giving a child an opportunity to choose to obey or choose not to obey followed by appropriate consequences is perfectly logical. Berating a child and displaying what appeared to be disgust towards a child broke my heart today.
I also reflected on how much I can enjoy my children when I really tap into them. I can enjoy Simon so much more when I put the iPad, the TV or my phone down. I can enjoy him when I let "MY" agenda for the day go. When I don't have too much scheduled I can more easily engage in him. I'm not saying that I need to do this ALL the time. In fact, he is capable of entertaining himself quite well these days on his own. But I still want to joyfully watch him play. I want to enjoy my children more than I enjoy my phone, my emails, my friends, my tv shows. The simplicity and complexity of a child is something to be admired. It is beautiful! We have a lot to learn from our children.
Sum it all up to say Lord, hear my heart. Help me to Love my Children well.