Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Balancing competing interests

I think one of the toughest times that I face is when my wife and my child both have competing interests and each one asks me to help them.
This happened tonight. My wife was sick and my 5 year old wanted to sleep in mommy's bed. Jenn need to get some rest and that was not going to happen with Mia rolling on her.
Jenn began issuing consequences, but Mia just dug in deeper and began grunting and screaming. Mia wanted me to let her stay, Jenny needed her out. The clock was ticking, because everyone's patience was wearing thin.
"Mia, you can sleep on my side of the bed or on the Dave bed." (The day bed has been nicknamed the Dave bed.)
"Arrrrgggg, I need to think." Grunted Mia, barely audible.
"You need to think?" I confirmed.
Another grunt.
"Think quickly, because mommy needs to sleep."
Mia sat sucking her thumb.
"What is your decision?" I asked.
More incoherent grunting mixed with "I need to think!"
"Can I carry you to your decision?" I suggested.
Mia flung out her arms and allowed me to pick her up. I began to play "Am I getting hotter or colder." I moved to one area of the room, and then another. As it turned out she decided to go to her brother's room. I never would have suspected that she wanted to sleep there. It's freezing in there:)
I chalked this up to another win-win outcome. I was able to maintain my patience by connecting with my breath and realizing that the needs of my wife and child were both important. I was thankful that I was able to keep my cool while keeping the threats and consequences to a minimum.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mia grunts and screams her way to sleep

Tommy called Mia the "fat" word tonight and Mia fell apart. She began screaming, grunting and crying uncontrollably in the living room. I can't reach her when she is in that state.
I figured my options were to move her into her bedroom and hold the door shut as she screamed and kicked. Or I could hug her and place her on the soft couch while Tommy and I went up for his bath.
I chose the latter option. She was tired, sad and angry. Who needs a consequence in that condition? I hugged her and told her I was sorry that she was so sad. I have done this enough times so that she knows that I mean it and she no longer gets defensive when I hug her when she is angry.
When I got back down from the bath, she had cried herself off to sleep.
I call this ButterCream Gang parenting. This was a movie from the early 90s where one of the kids in a group begins to do some really horrible things, like bullying and shoplifting. The entire town reacts with unconditional love and the kid eventually comes around. It worked from my point of view, tonight with Mia.