Saturday, April 12, 2014

Well, could you please be nice?

We have a morning routine. If not already awake, I get the kids up at 7am. Josias climbs in bed with me and Shiloh. We talk, sing, cuddle, and rip toys out of each others' hands for about fifteen minutes.

Since he no longer sleeps with us, I have implemented this "in bed" time to reconnect with Josias before the demands of the day begin (because along with those demands come some of the challenging behaviors that Josias and I struggle with). Also, I enjoy hugging and kissing my babies.

This strategy has been somewhat successful in preventing morning meltdowns, which tend to throw us off schedule. And keep on schedule we must, in order to get to school before breakfast is gone, as that would cause yet another meltdown. Our 7am wake up time gives us a full hour to get dressed, eat breakfast, and head out the door. It should be enough, but something inevitably waylays us.

Like today, for instance. We started out ahead of schedule. Eggs and toast had been prepared and consumed, cleared and cleaned. We had plenty of time to get dressed, so the kids were playing while I did some laundry. Great!

Then, outta nowhere, it was time to go. How does this happen? A problem with the time-space continuum? So, I began barking orders at Josias, telling him to get dressed. He continued to play. I "helped" him take off his jammies and asked him to put on his school clothes. He continued to play. Naked.

After about 10 minutes, I'd had it. I told him that if he didn't get dressed, Shiloh and I would wait for him in the car (not cool, and not true). He then discovered that he couldn't find his underwear. You mean the underwear I placed on the the couch 10 minutes ago and asked you to put on? Uh-huh, yes. Those underwear.

In a loud voice, I launched into a lecture about how if he had gotten dressed when I asked, this kind of thing wouldn't happen. The lecture went on for many moments longer than it should have. When I finally stopped, Josias looked up at me and with total sincerity asked, "Well, could you please be nice?"

This should have elicited not only an "aww" from me, but also a step back from what I was doing to take a deep breath and realize that nothing in this scene was an emergency and yes, I should be nice. Firm, but still kind. Always kind.

At that point, however, I had let my frustration get the best of me and my response was, "No! I cannot be nice. I asked you to get dressed many times and now you've lost your underwear!" It did not seem ridiculous when I said it.

I then left the room and recognized the idiocy of my statement and my attitude. It took me about 3 minutes until I was able to go back and say, "I'm sorry, Josias. You are right. Mama should be nice. I'm sorry for the way I spoke to you."

But then, I had to add, "I was frustrated," as if that was an excuse. Josias wasn't accepting excuses, however. He came back with, "Well you should still be nice. You could go like this - he proceeded to make exaggerated breathing noises, inhaling and exhaling several times - to calm down."

He had me there. Yes, I should always be nice. When I'm frustrated, I should calm down before I speak loudly, meanly or angrily. I should always be nice. When I am not nice, I should own up to my behavior and apologize, without qualifications. When I finally said this to Josias, he smiled, we found his underwear and he got dressed.

Later, as I debriefed this episode in my mind, three things struck me:
  • Not getting dressed was age-appropriate behavior and was not a big deal. I'd do well to remember that the next time it happens, which, in all likelihood, will be tomorrow.
  • I didn't like how I handled the situation and felt that I was modeling behaviors that I did not want to see in Josias. But, what I also modeled, is that everyone, including Mama, gets frustrated and angry. No one is perfect and no matter how much yoga we do, we all lose our cool sometimes. If and when that happens, try to make it right.
  • Most importantly I realized that through our day-to-day interactions, I have supported Josias' understanding of what is and what isn't helpful, supportive, and NICE behavior. And, when someone is treating him in a way that doesn't feel good, he can clearly communicate how it feels and what he wants. 
That's not bad for a three and a half year old. So, what I came away with is that sometimes, even if this morning didn't seem like one of those times, I must be doing something right.

Now, if only Josias could internalize the idea that HE should always be nice.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Much Respect

I went out to dinner the other night with my two kids. A three and a half year old and a one year old waiting to be fed, in a pent-up environment where they are allowed to touch exactly nothing, is not a stress-free affair. Especially if you happen to be the waitstaff.

Why put yourself and other diners through it then, you ask? Ah, my friend, I've got a secret weapon, affectionately known as boobies, in my house. They rapidly bring peace to nearly any explosive situation.

The wee ones were getting antsy, copious amounts of water, sugar and salt had been spilled, and the youngest was crying. He needed his milky. Almost four years into my breastfeeding career, I don't give a second thought to breastfeeding in public.

I've breastfed nearly everywhere I've ever been (I wrote about my first time breastfeeding in public here).

A number of mama websites and blogs I frequent often talk about the need to normalize breastfeeding by doing it in public. I'm not talking about being showy, just feeding the babes when and where they are hungry. Everyday, across the country, women are harassed, shamed, ridiculed and ostracized for feeding their babies in the most natural and healthy way known to humans.

This has never happened to me. I don't usually worry about it. In fact, I've had several instances where strangers have actually supported my breastfeeding in public (my favorite instance is described here).

Every once in a while though, especially if I'm in a new place, and there aren't many kids and by extension parents, around, it crosses my mind that someone might say something to me about breastfeeding in public.

Well, it happened the other night at dinner. As the baby fussed, I began to feed him. The couple sitting at the next table, who were obviously on a date, glanced in my direction. Their faces told me something was up. I thought, "Great, here it comes." The man then reached out and lightly touched my arm. He said, and I quote, "Much respect." He went on to say that in his country women breastfeed in public all the time, but he doesn't see women doing it here in the US. "Why?" he asked, "Is it because there are so many hangups with women's bodies?" He might be on to something.

This was too good not to share. Thank you to everyone out there supporting breastfeeding mothers.  And, to all the mamas who nourish their babies' bodies and souls everyday: Much respect.

Has a stranger ever made a comment to you as you fed your baby?

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