Wednesday, July 31, 2013

One Minute's Patience

We were out today having a late lunch, and it was time for us to move on to the next activity. Bug (2y) however, was not ready to leave. He was enjoying playing on the bench outside. I asked him nicely to come with me to the car, which he kindly declined. I had that compulsion to just grab him and carry him to the car, most likely kicking and screaming.

Instead, I waited and counted in my head to see about how long it would take him to decide to come along on his own.

Less than 60 seconds.

He finished up playing on the bench, hopped down, and toddled along his merry way to the car with me. How much stress and hassle would have come from me grabbing him against his will? Would violating him like that have been worth one minute? I don't think so. Maybe in another situation if safety was a concern, but certainly not this one.

How many conflicts could we avoid if we took a deep breath and had one minute's worth of patience?

Josh and Chores

Josh (8y) is not asked to do chores. So it should come as no surprise to hear that he woke up before the rest of us (Bug and I were up most of the night), watered the garden, picked some squash and cucumbers, fed the fish, made himself breakfast, and got dressed before quietly tip-toeing into the bedroom to check on Bug and me.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fighting Impulses

I grew up in a very argumentative family. Nothing I ever said or did was taken for truth without being questioned and inspected. My dad was "never wrong", and to this day has never admitted anyone has been "more right" than he was.

Though I haven't talked to my dad more than 3 times a year for the last 5 or so years, this still has an impact on how I parent my boys.

When Josh (8y) says something as simple as, "This box of q-tips is almost empty." I compulsively think, "No its not! I need to check." This is seriously something my dad would have said and done. And that's something insignificant, really, so now imagine my gut reaction to bigger things.

We've been working on changing our parenting for over a year now, yet still I fight this impulse on a daily basis. I have it much more under control now. I recognize what's going on in my mind and why. An outsider, even a close friend, likely wouldn't recognize the effort that goes into a simple statement like, "Okay honey, I'll put it on the shopping list." Our childhood experiences are deeply rooted and take time to work through. We keep on taking it one day at a time.

Josh's Cookie Business

An example of natural consequences-

Josh and his neighbor friend wanted to make some money, so they decided to sell cookies. Josh and I went to the store to research prices of each ingredient, then came home to do the math on how much each batch cost us.

Me- Okay, we know how much each recipe batch costs, but since you're selling by the dozen we need to make the cookies to see how many each batch yields. Don't go around telling people prices until we know how many dozen are in each batch.
Josh- Alright.

 .... He goes off to play while I mix the cookie dough. We'd agreed on this arrangement. Later both boys come back inside.

Me- Alright, each batch made 3 dozen, so each dozen is costing you $2.33. You'll want to charge a percentage over that cost. That is your profit margin.
Josh-- Uh....Well, we already told everyone each dozen was going to cost $2.
Me- Why did you do that? I'd specifically asked you not to do that.
Josh- Well, we were just anxious to get the money so we went to all the customers and let them know we'd deliver today.
Me- You could let them know your mistake when you receive payment and see if they're willing to pay more.
Josh- Well...
Me- Did you already get money too?
Josh- Yes.
Me- Where is it?
Josh- In our pockets.
Me- Well, you owe me $2.33 for each dozen ordered for the cost of ingredients, so you can go ahead and hand me the money you have. You will need to honor your price to the customers who have already paid also. So basically you've lost money today.
Josh- *sighing, handing over cash* Alright.

Word quickly spread through the neighborhood kid network on what had happened, and 3 of his 5 customers gave him a couple extra dollars. He paid up the $11.65 for the ingredients without any fuss

Monday, July 29, 2013

Stolen Cupcakes

When things are stolen....

To set the scene, the boys each got to pick a snack while we were grocery shopping Friday. Josh (8y) picked a 4 count box of cupcakes, and Bug (2y) picked a bag of cookies.

Last night, after Bug went to bed, Josh discovered that one of his cupcakes was missing its frosting. Neither Papa nor I had eaten it, so it was concluded that Bug must have done it. Josh was quite... upset, and rightly so. We comforted him, suggested he talk with Bug about it in the morning, and suggested he keep his snacks on a higher shelf in the future.

The morning comes, both boys wake up, and Josh goes straight to the pantry to pull out his cupcakes.

Josh- Bug, come here please.
Bug- Hey Joshy.
Josh- Bug, you ate one of my cupcakes without permission.
Bug- Yeah....
Josh- Bug, these are mine. You can't eat my snacks without permission.
Bug- *stares at Josh*
Josh- Can you tell me you're sorry?
Bug- Okay.
Josh- No, say you're sorry.
Bug- Okay.
Me- Josh, you can't make him say he's sorry. He will say it if he really feels that way.
Josh- But I want him to say it!
Me- You can't expect that of him. It won't be sincere if you make him say it.
Josh- Ugh!

Meanwhile, while Josh and I are having this exchange, Bug pulled his cookies out of the pantry and handed one to Josh.

Bug- Heeya go, Joshy.
Josh- Oh...Oh! Thanks!
Me- That is his way of saying he's sorry. Do you see that?
Josh- Yeah. Okay.

Bug Learns About Pollination

Conversations with a two year old-
Me- Want to water the garden?
Bug- Yeah! Oooh, where's the cucumbers?
Me- You want to see the cucumbers? 
Bug- Yes. I need two cucumbers.
Me- Oh, you want to pick some? Let's find some that are ripe.
Bug- Oooh, dis one!
Me- Okay, twist him.
Bug- Twist 'em! Twist 'em!
Me- Oh, see the bees flying in the flowers?
Bug- Yeah. He getting in da flower?
Me- Yes, he's getting pollen on his feet. Then he's going to get in another flower. He's pollinating the flowers.
Bug- He's powwinating? In the powwen?
Me- Yes, he's helping the plants make more fruit.
Bug- Making more cucumbers?
Me- Yes.
Bug- Oh look! 'Nother bee. He's powwinating!
Me- Yep!
Bug- Where's my two cucumbers? Oh! Here they are! I'ma go wash them, okay Mama?
Me- Okay. Do you want to eat him.
Bug- Yes, I eat dis one!

 Learning everywhere.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sharing Cookies

A story about a toddler who's never been asked to share in his entire life.

Bug, age 2- I needa cookie!

Me- Okay, here you go.

Josh, age 8- Ooooh, I want a cookie!

Me- These are Bug's cookies, you'll need to ask him.

Josh- Can I have a cookie, Bug?

Bug- Here ya go! (hands cookie to Josh) I needa nudder cookie, Mama!

Me- Here you go.

About an hour later....

Bug- I needa cookie!

Me- Here you go.

Bug- No! I need TWO cookies!

Me- Two cookies?

Bug- I need TWO cookies! I need his cookie.

Me- His cookie? Who's cookie?

Bug- I need Joshy's cookie.

Me- Oh, one for you and one for Josh? Here you go.

Bug- Thanks! (takes second cookie to Josh, to Josh's surprise)

Book Recommendations

Two books I highly recommend are "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk" and then "Unconditional Parenting" by Alfie Kohn.

Moving away from using punishment or fear requires us to shift our way of thinking about our kids and their motivations. Are they simply exploring? Have we taught them the skills we would like to see them use in certain situations? Do we model those ski...lls regularly? We have to stop thinking of our kids as having ill-intentions, and rather see them as wanting to do well but without the skill set to do so. Have clearly stated expectations which are the same for everyone in the house. Ours are that you respect people and their property- you don't touch anyone or their things without permission- and you honor your agreements. So as long as no one is harming another person or their property they are not doing anything "wrong".

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Back From Slacking

You may have been wondering where I've been lately or why I haven't been posting much. The truth is that some days I am in survival mode. Some days it is all I can do to keep the children fed and alive. I've been having a string of those days lately. We're not sleeping well, crazy things come up that we need to handle, etc. Do you ever feel like that? I think we all do at some point or another, and more than just once. It's part of life. When this happens I just take one day at a time and focus on the really important stuff. Are the kids' needs being met? Are my needs being met? If so, I'm doing well. The house can be cleaned later. New posts can be written later. Just about everything else can wait until later, as long as I focus on our family and the quality of our relationships first.

Why We Don't Spank

Why don't we spank our children? Well, we used to. We spanked Josh (8y) until he was 6 years old. I don't think I ever planned to spank him, but as he got older and had a will of his own, his own wants, his own plans, his own expectations, I didn't know how to incorporate that into our lives. I had a job to be at each morning, errands to run, chores to do, and I needed him to cooperate with my schedule. I had never learned peaceful techniques or armed myself with tools for encouraging cooperation, so I used what I knew from my childhood- fear and punishment.

It didn't work. The older he got, the less effective spanking became. His behavior may have been compliant for a while, but eventually the same behavior repeated. The punishments had to escalate to 'keep him in line' for any period at all. After reading and self-reflection, I now understand that fear of punishment doesn't encourage positive changes, it only encourages more care in not getting caught. Internal motivation is the key to positive change.

After much research and soul searching, we have many reasons why we do not spank the children. We teach them no one has the right to touch them without permission, in any way, especially not to hurt them, even us. Spanking would violate that principle. Spanking teaches that "might makes right", that if you are bigger or stronger than someone else you can force them to do whatever you want. Spanking does not encourage cooperative problem solving, communication, empathy, compassion, or negotiation, all of which are vital to healthy relationships.

I don't want our boys to think it is alright for violence to be part of a loving relationship. I don't want them to ever hit their partners or children. I don't want them to think it's alright if people they know hit their partners or children. I don't want them to make any decisions out of fear of me or Papa. I want them to be internally motivated to do well, not acting based on external factors. I want for them to be respectful people, and so we much model how people respect each other to them. I want to have a loving, connected relationship with them when they are grown, without any hard feelings or harsh memories between us.

These are the reasons we don't spank.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Josh's 1 Year Interview

Joshs 1 year interview

Please please pretty please let this file work!

I asked folks over at the Facebook page ( if they had any questions for Josh (8y) now that he's been unschooled for one year (as of May, when this interview was conducted. It has taken me this long to figure out how to get the file to post here. I am not internet savvy.).

You will notice he loses interest after a few minutes and decided to build Legos while answering his questions. I just went with it and did my best not to lead his answers.

So here it is, hopefully. Will someone please let me know if the link above works or not? Thank you! Enjoy!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Birthday Treasure Hunts

Our weekend was full of treasure hunts. It started with Papa sending me on a birthday adventure around town. Josh (8y) saw how fun that was for everyone involved and decided to make his own around the house.

He made riddles, wrote clues backward to be reflected in the mirror, used codes and other such fun. A pad of sticky notes, a pen, and some imagination made for some great memories.