I’m sure a lot of moms out there can understand this dilemma…
Munchkin #1 is my argumentative child. His response to almost every one of my requests usually begins with the word “but.” I love his willingness to always want to explain his point of view, and his demand to constantly be heard.
I am not, and will not, be a parent who excuses their child’s poor behavior because he/she can logically argue his way out of a suitable consequence. And trust me when I say Munchkin #1 will try his hardest to logically argue his way out of a suitable consequence to a poor decision.
My son and I have a tendency to butt heads…our personalities just clash a lot and now that he’s getting older and isn’t my little sweet baby boy anymore, we have to figure out how to communicate so that we both hear each other and sometimes, especially with a 5 year old, it’s much easier said than done.
What happens when you start arguing with a child? You raise your voice. You may insist that you know better because you’re the adult of the situation (which is totally true, but remember how much BS you thought that was as a kid?) You refuse to listen to their side of the story because you feel like shutting up may undermine your authority as a parent. So you keep raising your voice, and Munchkin starts raising their voice, and before you know it, you’re losing your temper over a screaming match with a child, and showing them exactly the behavior you want to curb.
Please note: I’m not saying you can’t lose your temper with your kids. That’s just unrealistic. They’re kids…they’re going to make you mad. As The Colonel reminds me, “If parenting were easy, you’d be doing it wrong.”
But the losing of a temper over something trivial can end in hurt feelings and can often lead to a really horrible exchange between parent and child. I’ve come to realize that, since Munchkin #1 is starting kindergarten, I want him to feel comfortable to tell me things, even things he think might make me angry. I’ll say now…the concept of being my child’s “friend” makes me shudder, but I still want them to trust me with their secrets and seek out my advice when life really gets tough.
Munchkin #1 is currently undergoing his first experience with Vacation Bible School. I’m not overly religious, neither is The Husband, but we are Christians and I think an upbringing that references the Bible and a faith in the greater good isn’t the worst thing you can do to your kids.
Today, as #1 was putting his shoes on, he asked me what patience was.
I know I’ve told him to be patient. I’ve told him I was going to lose my patience. But I don’t think I’ve ever defined the term.
Womp womp…crappy Mom moment. I looked at my son and realized it was my turn to stop talking. I let him say what he needed to get out.
We had a quick conversation about trying to listen to each other with better ears and I took a second in the kitchen to revel in the amazement of how wise a 5 year old can be.
I began getting snacks and drinks together for the car ride to VBS when #1 came into the kitchen and began asking me for something that I was physicially unable to get for him at that exact moment in time. I began to cut him off, clearly forgetting the 5 minutes prior and slipping right back into a bad habit.
Then there they were…the words that have saved us. He looked at me and asked, “Mommy, can you use your patience?”
It shut me up. I let him talk. And he got out what he had to say. And all was well.
We’ve been reminding each other when we need to stop talking and listen to the other. We just ask, “Can you use your patience?”
Is this going to last? Who knows? When you’re a parent, you do what you have to in order to get to the day as painlessly and with as little conflict as possible. I want to enjoy my kids, but sometimes the difficulty of being a parent makes me resentful. Then I lose my temper and we’re all hurt.
So now I’m just going to keep trying to use my patience. The magic of these words may not last forever, but right now I’m thankful for the past week of improved communication with my little boy.
Since the dawn of time, moms have had a rough gig. We are the ones…