In pre-school, both my boys did the "we're going on a bear hunt" game. Remember that? "We're going on a bear hunt... can't go over it, can't go under it, gotta go around it." On this hunt you encounter obstacle after obstacle and you have to figure out how to get past each one. I've found parenting to be similar. But I've also discovered that going through our trials/obstacles together is better than going around them, over them or under them. This week, I jumped right in.
So hate me if you must, but for the most part my boys are insanely well behaved. Perfect? NO! But they are both sweet, tender-hearted and obedient - for the most part. However, lately they have had a really hard time focusing on tasks and doing what we ask of them. Our goal is first time obedience - all the way, right away, with a happy heart. For some reason, this is particularly hard for our littles around dinner and bedtime. It's as if they don't know what to expect or what is expected of them after 5+ years! Really? When I say, "boys, dinner is ready in five minutes." That means go wash your hands, get your water and come help set the table. Three tasks. Three. (I've been told that 3 is the magic number for boys memories. Who knows if it's true.) These simple tasks can take them up to 20 minutes! Why? If they have actually listened to me and get up from their activities, then there is inevitably a stall in the bathroom. Water fights. Goofing around on their stools. Playing swords with their toothbrushes. You name it. Apparently the bathroom can be just as much of a time suck for little boys as it is for teenage girls and women.
At bedtime, the bathroom is once again a problem. Uggh. I guess I should be happy they get along so well and are laughing their little butts off versus trying to kick one another's said tiny booties. And I am, but come on boys... mommy and daddy are tired. Once their teeth are brushed, it's off to put on pjs. I'm not even going to go into the lengthy stall tactics often put into play here. Suffice it to say, when we ask our boys to do what they are told, it's not getting done all the way or right away without several reminders or rants from the parental unit. We finally said enough and consequences for their actions were handed out. No treats (which equates death in this family) and no playdates after school.
Basically they were grounded. But, we didn't say no TV or no video games. I could have easily decided to just let them go their own way and figure out what to do without their friends or let them play together while I worked on the computer or finished ever-increasing mound of laundry. Instead, I chose to jump in to the teachable moment. To invest in their hearts. We sat down together for our afternoon snack and talked about our days and then we began chores. (If they're grounded, I'm taking full advantage.) I taught my oldest how to start the dishwasher and clean windows and mirrors. And my youngest learned how to sweep the floor and vacuum up the dust bunnies. Then we dove into homework. My oldest has homework daily, but this week I actually sat down with him. And my youngest never has homework. He's four. But, we all sat in the playroom working on math, reading and the glorious alphabet.
You know what? Those were the two best (and most productive) afternoons we have had since school started this year. I realized that working through life's challenges together benefits all of us. I could have just dolled out spankings (which I do not object to when necessary) or timeouts, but I would have missed out on so much. And quite frankly, I don't think my littles would have learned nearly as much. We grew - as a family. I also learned that my oldest thinks he needs hearing aids. Let me assure you that his hearing is just fine. He's been tested twice. He has learned that he just needs to focus once we ask something of him. And we no longer bark orders from across the house. We go to our boys to communicate with them.
For more on discipline, starting with Mom, check out this audio.
For parenting "special needs", this post is amazing.
Did you have any challenges this week that will make your weekend sweeter? xo