It started with lying on the ground on her back in protest. It then escalated into shrill screams directed at me with no purpose other than to rattle my eardrums. Next up, the foot stomping…often paired with the screaming. When that got old, my two year old began to experiment with words. Telling me “NO!” soon became boring. So she took it up another notch. Through this she discovered that there were three words in particular that I didn’t like her to say, at all…ever. After a stern “No!” she would sit there and grind her teeth (that’s how I know she’s thinking of her next move). Several days into this, she finally came up with her next big protest.
“Lauren, sit down in your seat at the table, please,” I directed her, one morning at breakfast.
Well, at least she’s efficient…get’s them all out at once. Pack as much ammunition into it as possible to get your point across. Crazy little peep. The funniest part of it all is the look on her face when she’s doing it. She just looks at me with pure disdain. As if I’ve truly offended her for the last time, and she will no longer tolerate my silly demands. What’s funnier still, is that she fell off her chair ten seconds later. As she ran into my arms for comfort, I gave her the old “I told you so,” in response to which she gave me huge hug and said she was sorry.
No, that didn’t happen. There would be no story here. She didn’t appreciate my comforting at all. Instead, she hauled off and smacked me upside the head.
It seriously hurt so bad I had to put her down and walk away to evaluate what had just happened. When I came back into the room to discipline her for it, she had dug her heals in even harder. At the first sight of me and sound of my voice she launched into a fit of “POO-POO! SHUT UP, MOM! SHUT UP! TEE TEE! ”
OK, so we’re here now. As I reached down to pick her up, she took off running. When I caught up to her and picked her up, she started smacking me upside the head again.
Up the stairs and into her room, I set her on her bed and gave her one last chance to calm down and be realistic. Please. That’s as funny as her smacking me upside the head when I wasn’t expecting it.
“Lauren, you cannot hit. You cannot say tee tee, shut up, or poo poo,” I reiterate. It’s time for you take a nap, now.
She kicked me and told me to shut up.
I slapped her hand.
Now, at no point in this whole madness did I yell. I gave it up for Lent. That, alone, tells you where I’m at with this, right? Yet, one little slap on the hand, and her world ended.
Finally, she looked at me with apologetic eyes, as if she’d finally realized what she’d done to the Mommy that she loves so much. It’s as if she just snapped right out of it. I opened my arms and she climbed in for a snuggle. Then, I tucked her in, told her I loved her and shut the door for nap-time.
By 11:30 am, I had already accomplished so much. I had handled a tantrum without yelling! Yay for Mommy! If only that could just last until my husband gets home at 7pm…he’d believe that it really does exist!
I start out every day with the greatest intentions in disciplining my children. My mind is a constant fury of research and prayer to figure out how to ensure my daughters know that they are unconditionally loved, but not allowed to rule my house. Sometimes, I make it through the entire day without losing patience one single time. Ha ha ha ha . Did you believe that? I’m sorry…that was a mean joke. It’s more likely that by 8 am I’ve already lost my patience multiple times.
Learning how to deal with my own actions when my patience is lost is the most difficult kind of endurance training I’ve ever put myself through. But, after taking my husbands complaints about me yelling at them every night when he gets home from work…you know…the dinner-bath-bed- routine…to heart, and decided to make a change. Or, at least try. Because no matter how I justify why I’ve earned the right to lose my patience after an entire day of being smacked upside the head (figuratively, and literally!!!), I don’t.
“Treat others the way you want to be treated.” It’s the point I’m driving home with my older daughter right now. I am in her face about it, the way only I can be. It’s kind of hard to teach her that lesson unless I model it myself. So, when she told me that she doesn’t like the way I treat her when I yell, I accepted the challenge.
“Ok, Brianne. I won’t yell at you if you listen to me. We listen to each other, because we want others to listen to what we have to say, too.” No, it didn’t work immediately. But when I yelled, or she didn’t listen, we talked about it…and I just kind of stuck with it. Maybe, if she sees me trying to handle situations in a calm manner, than she will follow suit. And it helps me be less rattled with the younger one…who is the complete opposite of her sister and requires an entirely different set of rules. I just calmly take her out of the situation, and if it takes a little smack on the hand to snap her out of it, so be it.
There’s a lot to be said for removing yourself from the situation. I need to check myself in that category quite often. In my scramble to figure out how to be a good parent, I needed to remind myself that my children are a blessing…and that the best parent of all is looking out for their best interest, and mine. After all, He never lost patience with me….never gave up and made me feel like I wasn’t loved. No, every time I yelled, stomped my feet, and ran away…he calmly slapped me on the wrist…and sat there with open arms until I snapped out of it. Always open arms. Always an ‘I love you.” Unconditionally. So, I think it’s only right that my children deserve the same kind of love, patience and understanding. It’s a lofty goal to aim to be that way all the time…but if you don’t aim high, you’ll never get off the ground.
Here’s praying my patience lasts until noon tomorrow. 🙂
Happy patience exercising…