I always knew I wanted to be a Mother. Well at least the dreamer in me always knew. I used to say (and I kid you not!) that I was going to have 100 babies, and that I would have a husband who wanted to have 100 babies ... and horses! Can't forget those:) My mind was still developing and I obviously didn't realize the amount of time it takes to carry and birth 100 screaming babies let alone the time it would take to feed them, clothe them, and love them. I mean my 7 year old self must have been nuts! Granted I come from a family in which my Grandmother had 13 offspring, and let me tell you it doesn't sound like she had all the time in the world for them.
SO instead I settled (so far) for two. My daughter who is now 7, LittleBean (LB) and my son who is 2, LittleMonkey or Monster (LM) they are the lights of my life, and let's face it the bane of my existence. Remember I am not perfect. They challenge me and scare me and bring out the best and worst in me. They are my every reason for being. So when I had a revelation last week I was surprised that I hadn't decided this sooner: I need to get to know my children. Let me explain.
I studied child development, I have worked with kids in a professional capacity since I was 11, and a non professional capacity since I was younger. (in layman's terms I have been an unpaid babysitter/childcare provider for years) I have always been fascinated by the child's development and in psychology. So when I was standing over my 7 year old yelling at her that I couldn't understand why she couldn't pick up her room after she spent an hour whining about the chore. I saw her eyes, and for a brief moment I saw me through her 7 year old eyes.
That took all the huffing and puffing out of me. She was sitting there genuinely looking frustrated and confused. I was terrifying I could tell. But there was something beyond that. It seemed like she knew that her insolence and wrong behavior wasn't entirely a choice she wanted to make. She had made it, let's not dismiss that: she had been rude, and disobedient about her own mess, and had tried to blame me for not helping her clean up. But none the less, she seemed to genuinely regret what she had said to send me over the edge. I took a moment and asked her to think about what she really wanted to say, while I took a breather myself, and put LM down for his nap. When I returned she was calm, I was calm. We talked. We made a plan, we executed that plan and I learned something about my child; she was, and is, growing up.
She felt it had been unfair of me to expect her to clean up her brothers mess as well as her's, when I said "clean this room up"- her first thought was everything in here is not only my mess. Her instinct was to whine, because she felt overwhelmed and instead of seeing only the mess she had just made, she saw the mess of getting ready for school. And LM's mess while she was gone at school, and her own mess from the afternoon.
Our plan was simple : She starts the morning checking off her chore chart (I made one for her) that way she knows what is expected of her without me having to remind a thousand times a day. There are reward coupons she can earn for each week completed. Then whatever mess that LM makes while she is away at school we take note of, and Mommy and LM help with that part after the day is coming to a close, but if she wants to earn extra reward points she can help, but only if she chooses. The pride she takes in showing it to Daddy at the end of each day, and lack of whining to accomplish simple things, almost instantly is worth every cent!
And last she and I decide instead of yelling and whining we will talk and listen about each other's concerns. expressing herself at this age, takes more work than when she was a toddler- she knows what she wants to get across but can't exactly grasp how to convey that without getting the message mixed up. Making sure they feel listened to, and understood at this age is almost like fresh air and outside play, it can sometimes be hard and seem impossible to make time for, but it is vital to their learning and development.
It isn't always going to be perfect but this plan will help get us to a more cohesive track. She is growing up, and I need to grow with her.