Missing the Mark

Getting out the door in the mornings can be exhausting. Some days we limp, laden with bags and heavy hearts into the car, wishing it could have been different.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Eli has been almost jumping out of his skin recently. Barrelling around the house bossing everyone around, delighting in any kind of rough-housing activity – from wrestling, to climbing the door frames, to playing ‘bumper cars’ with Hudson. He has initiated a new game on the trampoline that involves flipping the toy quadbike as they leap out of the way, shrieking with pretend terror.

It probably didn’t help that I didn’t get around to eating my breakfast until two minutes before we were due to head out. I was hangry, frustrated and perplexed that there seemed to be a magical mute button that only applied to my voice. Eli’s crazy game of ‘let’s see if I can capture/smother Hudson with this blanket’ also probably didn’t help my stress levels.

It all went south when I forcibly relieved Eli of the blanket. He used his best soccer skills to dive dramatically onto the rug and collapsed, distraught that I would be so cruel as to stop their game. By the time we finally straggled out of the door into the car, we were all a bit worn out.

I’m a bit of a lecturer. Dave has commented before that if you can actually change kids behaviour with lecturing, ours will be guaranteed to be fine. Unfortunately, I suspect this is not the case….But when that urge rises to give some perspective about their behaviour and the effect that it is having on themselves and others, I just can’t. quite. stop.

I don’t know about you, but dropping kids off in that zone just taints my whole day. I question what I could have done differently, picture them sitting in a corner crying, chastise myself for not being more patient.

Thankfully every day isn’t like this, though it is hard to keep that perspective when it all falls apart. Usually, Eli is very capable of getting ready by himself – needing me only to help him with his hair wax or tie up his hair in his favourite ‘top-knot’ style that he insists on wearing. Hudson takes pride in setting out the breakfast dishes and pouring the milk over weet-bix. Ivy is usually fairly compliant with getting dressed, as long as she is afforded the choice of what outfit she will wear.

I found this great article yesterday that offered a helpful tweaking of parenting phrases that we usually default to, to ensure that a loving and clear message was being received by the kids. The biggest one for me was the communication of unconditional love, but also the expectation of a standard of behaviour: “I love you. At the same time I expect you to listen to me and follow the rules.” Previously, in the height of lecture mode I would instead insert the word ‘but‘ and feel as if I was negating the entire first statement. ‘But‘ takes away from the child’s understanding of security, whereas ‘at the same time‘ paves the way for non-dual thinking (where one can see both sides of the equation and not dig into a polarising view).

We definitely do not have it all figured out, and I suppose we should expect that mornings will occasionally still fall apart, even when we do our best to prevent that. Thankfully, the lectures seemed to have hit home this morning, and we managed to have a fairly straightforward, incident-free routine. If you had ‘one of those mornings’ though, you have all my empathy. I know exactly how you feel.

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