Just kidding. But now that I have your attention, stand up. Stretch your shoulders out, shake your arms a bit. Touch your toes (if you can). Ready? Besthappydanceimpression GO! Why are we celebrating? So many reasons. But mostly just that I had an awesome weekend, despite having a flu bug who’s latest symptom is repeat sneezing. Best count so far is 8 in a row. Not only was my weekend awesome, but it was also productive.
– I cleaned up my patio and gave myself a sunny outdoor tea space, with which I am completely in love.
– I washed all of our extra blankets that we used while we were huddled together shivering and feverishly sweating. By washed I mean soaked in the tub and hung over my balcony railing to dry in the winter sun. They smell lovely.
– My kitchen remains clean.
– I kept up with the laundry.
– I implemented and followed through on a proper time-out scenario, with the result that while we are still dealing with those pesky screaming tantrums, they are now followed by an appropriate 5 minutes of silence and a good attitude afterwards.
– I also implemented and followed through on a proper eating arrangement. Which would be that everyone sits together at the dinner table, and food for the kiddos is only allowed at the table. I eliminated my attempt to get Biggest to eat at specific times, and narrowed my battlefield down to where said food should be eaten. The cutoff, though, is 2 hours before a proper meal, to give him the best chance for actually eating a decent amount.
– I have cooked dinner twice in a row in my still clean kitchen.
– My kitchen is still clean.
– I just checked again, still clean.
– I didn’t sweat the cheerios on the floor.
– I’ve almost weaned myself off coffee.
Last but not least, I found the last piece of the puzzle. I am apparently headstrong enough to have missed the solution entirely. I’m sure that you guys are probably tired of hearing about all the tantrums and what not, but after another messy day on Saturday, I blew up. I yelled at my husband, I yelled at my kids, I think I may have yelled at myself. People, I had my own version of a tantrum. Seriously unpretty. (And yes, I know that’s not a word, but it describes the scene exactly.) In the aftermath, I found that piece. You know this whole “problem” I keep talking about? It’s not really there.
Way way way way back in the beginning, when Biggest was just a mini Biggest, more of a sprout really, I came across a book that mentioned the importance of the first three years of life to a child. It claimed that after the first three years, many of your child’s behavioural patterns and ideas and habits are starting to solidify. While that may be true, it put forth the idea in such a way as to put the fear of God into your parental boots, just in case you weren’t terrified enough. As in: if you screw up in those first three years, you and your child are doomed. As many of you know, I’m a bit of a worrywart. And a perfectionist. Among other things, we all have our foibles. While I’ve been weeding out the results of aggressive search engine use, I forgot that this book was one of the reasons for my continued research. After all, if you know what you’re up against, there’s less chance that you’re going to doom your child to miss that one scrub-the-backs-of-your-hands-too synapses and forever screw up their handwashing for life.
Folks, you can’t know what you’re up against. More importantly, there’s no point in even trying. The age range between 2 and 3, roughly, is something I’m terming an Explosion of Self. Meaning that is the general point in time in which children realize they have a say. I like to think of it like a stick of TNT and the resulting shockwave. During this time, the portion of parenting you’re doing is curbing the shockwave; reminding them that while they are A self, they are not THE self. All the nitty gritties of being nice to other people always and not chewing with their mouth full can wait until after the curbing is over. Not saying, of course, that you don’t remind them of such things, but if a tantrum is thrown because you didn’t want to give THE self a chocolate chip, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to be known as the gimme-gimme child in high school. It means THE self was reminded that they were A self, and A self is much too small to be demanding things high in sugar. As a result, I narrowed down my battlefield to 4 things: Say Nice Things, Follow Instructions, Speak Softly, Be Gentle. That’s a lot easier to handle than the fate of your child’s future while they’re still trying to pick their nose. You can’t cram 18 years of experience into a single year where cars and marshmallows still carry a very significant weight. (Although admittedly, marshmallows still carry significant weight with me, and I’m 25.)
So, for now, I’m riding out the shockwave, and I’m enjoying the peace it appears to be bringing.
Took a while, but I got it!