Baby steps

I’ve been thinking about attitude and how much it matters around this approach to privileges and responsibilities. I’m making a conscious shift away from scanning for the negative to catch them in the act and teach them a lesson, and instead striving to wake up every day rooting for them to succeed. For me, it’s a lot about language — The way I answer their questions, the way I talk to myself in my head, and the things I choose to notice and say to them.

This morning Charlotte said, “Mom my friends don’t like me as much anymore because of your dumb rules! … They get to do computer at their house and watch TV!” “Charlotte,” I said, “you’re going to get to do those things again too. I’m going to say yes as soon as possible!”

Then Ellen, “Mom, if we aren’t done with this by the time we go on vacation, can we still watch TV in the van on the way there?” “Ellen, I’m confident that I’ll be able to say yes by then. I just know you guys can do it!” “But, mom, do we have to keep doing it? Like, if someone does something wrong after this, then we have to start all over again?” she asked. “Well, yes, but we can talk about how that will work and it can change and evolve. I want your input, like if you think something’s not fair…” Fenner chimed in, “Well it’s not fair that we have to do the no friends thing for three weeks and Charlotte only has to do two!” “Yes, well, the teacher said to do that based on your ages.” “Why?!” “Because as you get bigger, your responsibilities get bigger, so you have to show us for longer.” They stared at me, unsatisfied. I added, “Do you want me to start treating you like six-year-olds in other ways too?” “Nooo,” they grumbled.

Later in the car I heard Charlotte say, “Oh, no! Now we have to go back to zero! You just hit me in the head!” Ellen answered, “No, mom didn’t see it!” There was silence and then, “Mom, did you see that?” “See what?” I said. “Ok, good,” Ellen said softly, and then louder to me, “Never mind!” I really didn’t see it and I need to show that I’m not out to get them by resisting the urge to scout for the negative. I only scout for the positive. The negative registers only if it’s undeniably right in front of me.

Like when we were playing badminton in the back yard today. Charlotte was taking a long time to serve. Jerry said, “Charlotte, whatayadoin’?” “Being stupid!” said Fenner. I was standing right there and she turned to me and said, “Do I go back to zero?” “Yes,” I said gently. “Zero? Fenner, were you rude?” asked Ellen. “Yes, I was rude,” answered Fenner with a smile.

At bedtime Fenner wasn’t smiling any more, however, and Jerry and I each got an earful of, “Why did you have to take this parenting class? … That whole chart isn’t fair … Why did you have to have Charlotte?” We listened and empathized as best we could. This thing is still rocking her world…for the better. She just doesn’t know it yet.

Meanwhile, I noticed a new appreciation written in Fenner’s section of the board: “I appreciate Charlotte because she motivates me not to hit or kick when I get angry.” Not bad. We’ll take it.

Explore posts in the same categories: Week 9: Family Meetings

2 Comments on “Baby steps”

  1. Vicki Says:

    These last 3 posts are amazing. I just want you to know, you have a “tribe” of parents, mostly mom’s who are following your story, supporting all of you and sending each of you our love.

    Thank You for sharing your journey.

    • flockmother Says:

      Thank you so much for your little notes of encouragement — they help keep me going. (Whadayaknow, encouragement works for grown ups too!)

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