Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day (late)

When does motherhood begin? At birth? Certainly not. Conception perhaps? I think not. 

I think motherhood begins at the thought of wanting a child. At the preparation for your body to grow another human, or for your home to welcome a child born by another. 

Motherhood is not only sleepless nights and changing diapers, although that is certainly a phase. Motherhood's first phase begins long before that, when space is made in the heart to unconditionally love and support a child through their lifetime, however short or long that may be. 

Happy Mother's Day to every woman in every stage of motherhood. The love you give, the work you do, changes the world.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Josh's Wet Swim Shorts

We recently finished reading How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber in our local peaceful parenting group. I've mentioned this book before. I feel it is a must read, so very helpful, even if you've been parenting peacefully for a while. It's a great refresher. 

Last week we had a situation in which the book especially helped me out. Josh (9y) had gone to the neighbor's house to swim with his friend. He came home, showered, and changed into dry clothes. The next day he mentioned swimming again while we were driving, and I realized I hadn't seen his swim shorts anywhere since the day before. I asked where he'd put them. He said in his closet. I was upset about this, and the thought of sharing how upset I was crossed my mind. Instead the conversation went something like this-

Me- Where exactly in your closet did you leave the shorts?

Josh- On the shelf.

Me- What happens to wooden shelves when they're wet like that?

Josh- They can warp or rot.

Me- So do you think that's an appropriate place to put wet shorts?

Josh- No, probably not.

Me- Can you think of a more appropriate place to leave them?

Josh- I could put them in the laundry.

Me- You could. That would get the other clothes and possibly the hamper all wet too.

Josh- Yeah. I could put it straight into the washing machine.

Me- That would keep other things from getting wet, yes. But then they wouldn't be available to wear again until after they were washed.

Josh- Oh, yeah....

Me- I was thinking you could hang them in the shower to dry.

Josh- Yeah, that's a good idea!

Making him feel badly about leaving wet shorts in the closet would not have made him want to do better in the future, and it doesn't help him understand WHY it isn't a good idea to leave wet clothes in the closet. This way he got to think through the reasons for doing things differently next time, and he got to contribute to finding a solution, in an accepting and respectful way.

At Sci-Tech on May 4th

Because we've lost our minds, we decided to take the boys to the science center today. May 4th. A Sunday...

They are giving all the kids pool noodle light sabers...

Our boys are quietly playing with ferrofluid while nearly every other child is beating the shit out of each other. It's a wild mob. 

Our kids are the anarchists, playing quietly with ferrofluid.

An update to my struggles with raising a 3 year old.

Apparently being 3 is really hard, because lately everything upsets Bug. Everything. Last weekend we had a rough time. Even with Papa home helping, we were both at our wits end. I'm typically parenting alone during the week, and when times get rough I want to just crawl in a corner and cry over a pint of ice cream (which I don't have and would necessitate a trip to the store, which I am too fearful to brave with said 3 year old when times are rough). I thought I'd exhausted all the book tricks. I spent time with him outside. He's eating. I just didn't know what to do to help him through.

For example, he wants 'the last piece of chicken' but he forgot he already ate it. One morning he was pissed that it wasn't snowing and then again pissed that I couldn't make it cold. Josh will say he loves me and Bug yells 'no you don't love her, I love her!' His uncle was dancing and he yells 'he doesn't dance, I dance!'

All. Day. Long.

I want to say, "Dude, chill. For real."

I *know* that it gets better; I have the nine year old to prove it. But I didn't do the whole peaceful approach last time around so this is new territory. I want to be there for him, help him through his feelings and all that, but when he gets upset because the traffic lights turn green I can't help but feel annoyed.

Anywho, recently I was reminded of a section in Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn which talked about the ratio of good interactions to bad interactions between parents and kids. There was a 'golden number', for every bad interaction you should have at least (I'm guessing the number) 12 good interactions (I will continue to look for the actual study).

Looking back at recent weeks I've been trying to get a lot of things done around the house and the yard and running errands. Most everything I was saying to Bug was commands. "You need to put on shoes." "We need to get in the car." Etc. without enough balance.

So the last few days I've consciously talked more with him about what he was up to, snuggled, and played more. It made a huge difference! Much better days.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Nebraska Bullying Flier

I'm sure by now you've all see the bullying flier handed out by a school in Nebraska making the rounds. The list of 'rules' includes such suggestions as "Treat the person who is being mean as if they are trying to help you", "Do not verbally defend yourself", "If you get physically not get angry", and perhaps most disturbing, "Do not tell on bullies." Parents responded with outrage and the school has since issued an apology.

But how are families to respond to bullying in schools? I believe we must first understand that our children's behavior is a reflection of our own, and we must end bullying in the family. A recent study out of SMU found that parents, on average, hit their children 18 times a week. Let that sink in. How can we expect our children not to be bullies themselves or to stand up to other children when bullied if we set the example that physical violence is an acceptable means of resolving conflict?

The school in Nebraska clearly sent the message that they do not want to be bothered with bullying issues among their students. Our children are depending on us to address the issue. We will never be rid of bullies in schools so long as parents are bullies at home.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Being 3 is Hard

If you don't know our backstory, we came to this whole unschooled peaceful parented thing when Josh was 6 years old. Before then he went to daycare, then public school, and we were generally bullies to him. 

That said, Bug is 3 years old and I have never parented a 3 year old peacefully. This is all new territory, and it is hard to navigate. This last week I've been becoming increasingly impatient with him and I've yelled a couple times. On the one hand I'm thankful that he is generally unphased by my yells. He just looks at me like, "What is wrong with you, Mom?" and goes about whatever he was doing. He is not afraid of me, for which I am very thankful. On the other hand it is so frustrating that he is unphased by my yelling because I do need his cooperation throughout the day in order to get certain things done.

I'm glad the yelling doesn't work because it forces me to get my head on right and find other means of working with him. But boy, oh boy, is this stage proving to be very hard for me. I want to share these struggles as a reminder that none of us have it all figured out. We are always growing and learning. And each of our children is their own individual who needs an individualized approach from us