Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Parenting game

So our house is finally settling down. The kids have ended the "Who's in charge" game and I have won....for the moment.

I had inspiration strike today as I was texting with a friend, I realized one of the advantages our kids have. Are you ready for it? Sit down cause you might need to let this sink in for a moment.

Our kids KNOW this is a game. Not only do they know, but they spend their days trying to figure out how to bend the rules, adjust the time clock and pick a fight with the Refs.

We are told very early on in our childrens lives that they simply do not understand us. Doctors, teachers, grandparents, even other mothers spend their days trying to convince us (and perhaps themselves) that our children simply do not know what we are asking of them. When they stare at you as you give them directions and then they ask you "what?", they are simply confused. When they look you in the eye as you direct them to stop jumping on the bed and then do it "just one more time", they simply did not process your request. When they carefully pick a fight between two other children and then sneak off so as not to get caught, they didn't understand they were hurting someone elses feelings.

I am not buying it. I happen to know my childrens IQ's and know they are so much smarter than that. I have seen the look in their eyes and can almost hear the wheels turning in their brains as they develop a plan of attack for the next round of the 'Parenting Game'.

Now my question to you is this....If you decided to look at this the way our children do, if you decided that this really is like a game, would that change how you parent?

Now don't get me wrong, parenting is HARD. It is hands down the most difficult, emotionally draining, physically exhausting, spiritually crying out job I have ever had. But if I decided to take every mean and hurtful thing my children say or do to me with a grain of salt because I understand the rules to this game, would those words cut as deep and would I react as strongly to something we both know she did not mean? Could you shake off those tantrums and screaming fits a little easier if you viewed its as a challenging of the rules instead of a personal commentary on you as a parent?

Now the brilliant part of this analogy, at least to me, is the one part the children are hoping you forgot. Are you still sitting down? YOU make the rules, YOU control the clock, and YOU, yes YOU are the supreme Ref in this game and have final call in all game disputes.

So tomorrow when I wake up, I will grab my jersey and whistle and go play. I will remember not only am I the Ref, I am the mom, I love my children, and that ultimately it is my house and my rules.

If you don't laugh, you'll cry.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

parenting or negotiating with decide

Ummm, we seem to have a situation on our hands. The children have rebelled and and its gotten ugly here in this place.

Now I know they have been through a lot this month. I truly understand that hubby and I have turned their worlds upside down, inside out, and sideways and they have done a marvelous job with handling all of that. I applude their confidence, their ease with change, their ability to trust. I praise their understanding of hubbys job and what it requires from us as a family, I really truly do.

On the other hand, ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME!!!!!!!!!
We have been bombarded with every bad attitude, snotty voice, wild hurricane, and distructive thought they have ever had in the past 48 hours. J has decided that he can do NOTHING on his own, A's voice has raised 59 octives so its at a pitch even the dog has trouble understanding as she whines, but my favorite tonight was K.

Oh boy howdy, that child! Tonight after dinner K got to take a bubble bath in our giant tub, put on her new Cars 2 pjs, and came downstairs to pack up her backpack (new) with her (new) school supplies. After we carefully did that she went in the kitchen and saw that we (I) had opened a bag of candy that she wanted. "Can I have this" she asks. "No K, its almost bedtime" her father answers. "I was asking mom" (snotty voice where you can hear the 'duh') is K's reply. "K, you may not have that candy" dad answers again and she actually rolls her eyes at him.
My first thought is, well maybe I dont want to admit to that one. What mom then does is send her to bed. Done, complete, game over, you lose.

As I am sitting at the table thinking of what I am going to say to her when I go upstairs to have our come to Jesus talk I am truly baffled by this first showing of open defience by K. She has mouthed off to ME before, talked back to ME, even risked her very life by telling ME 'duh' before but this with daddy is new.

Now you may be thinking that since K was disrespectful to daddy then he should be the one having a conversation with her, not mom, but I don't agree.

I believe that our daughters learn how to be respectful of their future husbands by watching their parents relationship. She will learn much more about me as a wife simply by watching me then any thing I tell her as a teen and young adult.

I am also a firm believer that Hubby is MINE. He is my best friend, my home, my safe spot in a world of chaos and I will not allow my children to be disrespectful to someone I cherish beyond all else. So when K is rude and mean and ugly to my best friend and I do nothing to challenge that, what is she learning? K will learn that friends don't stand up for each other. She will learn that husbands and wives don't defend each other. She will learn that she can divide us by simply using her words. K needs to understand that he is MY husband and because I love him, I will not allow anyone, including and especially her, to talk to him that way.

Now when I went up to speak with her we talked about the 'why' behind her being in bed early and this is what it comes down to. When K told her daddy that she was only asking me, she was telling him he didn't matter. When K rolled her eyes at him she was telling him that she did not love him enough to be respectful. Now those are some really harsh realities for my 7 year old but they are also some very important lessons that she needs to understand. They are lessons that will affect all her future relationships, both friendships and dating, and I am hoping to help her get them right now when the consequences are so small. Daddy went up to talk with her too and K has made this right. I am hoping that next time she will stop and think about what her words and actions mean before they hurt someone who might not be so quick to forgive.

If you don't laugh, you'll cry.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The meaning of words

I grew up knowing that my words matter. Not only did they matter but the meaning behind my words mattered a great deal. My father is an english major who enjoyed nothing more than debating what a word, sentence, or phrase meant both literally and metaphorically. I learned quickly what all those bad words truly meant, (had to copy dictionary lines), I knew that to say I hated meant I wished someone or something dead. I knew that 'may I' and 'can I' were very different phrases with very different definitions and would grant me very different answers.
One of my favorite things about my english major father though is that never did he simply tell us the meaning of a word. It always started with asking us what we thought it meant. Then why did we think that? Could we defend our opinion? I loved the debate because I remember those words still. One year in sunday school he asked a class full of young adults and teenagers what the definition of love was. It took us 5 weeks to come to an agreement and I still remember it to this day a good 15 years later. "love, an unconditional commitment to another persons well being". The other two words I can still tell you without pause are Grace and Mercy.
"Grace, getting something you don't deserve" "Mercy, not getting what you do deserve"
I have decided that everything involved in this move has been an act of Grace, of receiving things I do not deserve. The house on base, the school I wanted the kids in, the car ride that went so smoothly, the visit with inlaws where everyone was instant companions, the safety as we traveled across snowy and icy roads. My parents caring for our children as the hubby and I celebrate our 1o year anniversary and keeping the kids 2 more weeks while we unpack and set up a new home.
I have done nothing that allows me to think I deserve these gifts. I have whined, complained, had sleepless night of doubt and yet I have still been blessed, have still been given Grace. I am so very thankful for a God who is so full of Grace and Mercy and loves me so very much and gives me such incredible if only I would remember this next time we move

If you don't laugh, you'll cry