Character Building

aching my children to be honorable, and compassionate and giving are as important, moreso even, than teaching them reading, writing or arithmetic. So we frequently do things for others as a part of our “Hey Stranger Project” (www.instagram.comheystrangerproject and http://www.facebook.com/heystrangers) where we give to strangers. expecting nothing, and doing it anonymously. We buy coffees for the patrons behind us, line or drive thru, when we go on mommy-baby coffee dates, we bake goods to give to civil servants (or as SonShine most recently blurted to the firemen “we got these from the store because mommy isnt a really good at baking.” true story folks. but I try my best and thasts whats important right? yeah, that and discounted pastries at the supermarket when i mess up:) ) we write letters and draw pictures and send photos and pstcards to soldiers and police officers and everyone we know that gives a lot. Son has a Share Jar, where when he does good deeds around the house (getting sister her milk or her blanket or her stuffed hippo, or exercises the dog, or puts away someone elses mess) he gets money in his Share Jar. Once full, he can take it to the charity of his choice (most ALWAYS the humane society) and he gives it away. we also share our old toys with a Mommy-Kid coffee shop in town, a local goodwill, or the museum. 🙂 its a vital VITAL part of our family life, and I want to share some of it with you!

firemen

this is one of my favorites. we went and bought donuts for the firestation (on the way to bring daddy’s team at work some donuts too). SonShine wrote them a letter with his own words (“since you have been really good we are going to bring you a treat since you have been good”)  and I slipped them a Hey Stranger card and we went along our way. they caught up with us at the car and invited us in for a tour and to see the trucks! super cool! It made us feel more connected, and I was so thankful for that experience for the children.

sharejar

 

Our Share Jar. It has been a wonderful part of us for about 18 months. Now, this particular jar just broke, but we immediately replaced it 🙂

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Letters for SOldiers. Image

Postcards for the police Department! and also a few for some csick children in Europe!Image

We did 27 acts of kindness for my 27th birthday. Image

julian picked the toy aisle for the donation of that day. we got rid of 30 bucs that day in dollar stores around town. Image

we bought a cat for another person during the holidays. we loved poodle. but couldnt have poodle. so we paid her adoption fee so whichever forever home needed her, got her for free. 🙂Image

Julian picked out some snacks for the shelter for under the giving tree.Image

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this is the kind of thing we do together on a daily basis when we dont have much time or money or things to give.

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Julian LOVES it. at the Java Crew in our town, they do Suspended Coffees, so they will allow you to purchase coffees for those who come in asking for it, called suspended coffees, and those hard on their financial luck will be able to get a break. we usually do 15$ which is 10 suspended coffees.

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This year we extended it to Christmas Trees! We bought a tree for the person shopping for a tree alongside us.

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Toys for Tots has always been a huge thing for us and Im so glad!  Son picked out one for a kid his age and one for a kid his sisters age.

These things (along with the others youll find on the sites) really allow me to see this raw giving heart my children are growing into. its so beautiful!

“schooling” our way.

While no decisions have been made as of yet how my JudeBug will be schooled come September (he just turned 5) and certainly nothing decided on Moon’s schooling (just turned 2), We have “learning time” here and its where us as parents put a special effort forth to teach something. This doesnt always come in terms of sitting in front of a workbook or a computer. It’s simply a period of time that learning takes place from either practicing recently learned skills or learning new things. 

So we try to get creative; we really don’t want them bored of it 🙂 

Just thought I would share these for you, the ones I happen to have pictures of, to show what we do around here. For the few who might be looking for some insight.:)

Side Note (located at the end of this…just to be a pain) when uploading my pictures of our San Fran Adventures at the Science Academy and the Exploratorium, they upoaded in random spots. so the cool interactive things you see are from there (if you EVER visit san fran with kids, go to the Exploratorium. this is the most amazing educational place. You will also see pictures from Aviation Museum of Seattle, OMSI in PDX, Childrens Museum in PDX, Gilbert House in Salem, and the zoo in PDX too. but apparently I cant control my uploader. BOOOOO!

 

there are quite a few, and ill post more when I find the rest 🙂

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We take trips a lot to places like this one above, the air museum. this one is in seattle we went there on a trip to visit family. 

 

 

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We baked up some ornaments with applesauce and baked them up. 

 

 

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Bath Crayons. Simple as that. look what he did unprompted, when given the tools 🙂

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lots of blocks and building and things. Image

this toy was cool. I got to teach him about lightning bugs even though we dont have them here.Image

 

again with the blocks! 🙂

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candyland! teaching strategy and rules! along with taking turns!

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playing and learning shapes with candy. 

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this was the childrens museum in Portland. We love it there!Image

Dont be afraid of technology. technology is a tool that keeps giving us more and more. dont let them be a boob to the tube or anything, but embrace the new learning opportunities that they have now that we didnt as kids.Image

draw. WITH them. 🙂 they learn from example and things broadening their imagination. Image

this was at a trip to the corn maze. it was fun to work together and follow a map!Image

building with crayons. this is a slide 🙂

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after we learned about digestion I did a “drawing quiz” and had him draw what digestion looked like. this is what h came up with ^^.Image

we go to the beach and see the tidepools a lot. this was a stop in southern Oregon on our way to California for a trip to San Fran ( a trip with a learning event a day!) 

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Dinosaur exhibit at the fair! 

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encouraging writing, even wrong, builds skills. 

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She so desperately had to  craft with me. 

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Draw Something. 

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this helped him practice his writing skills, spelling skills, reading skills, and drawing skills. Image

Dress up is HUGE! its so much more fun to learn about different occupations when youre dressed up as it. Image

Educational Easter Baskets! 

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encourage. encourage encourage!

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More Draw Something!

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Sesame Street Live!

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tractor fun! My daughter LOVES tractors and while at the farmers market learning about food and where things grow (in person) we checked this out, decked out in hero capes. 

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The Grand Canyon with blocks!Image

love notes at dinner!

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You learn more as a smart superhero of course!Image

also…LOVE giant benbags. 

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Theres a boy in there!

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When Santa leaves you a handwritten letter on your new Easel, you must read it to find out what it says right?Image

Magnets! i love magnet fun!

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Playing match for memory help!

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More magnets! creating sentences with available words. its a favorite these days!Image

Mount Rushmore in Blocks! 

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“Jason Mraz” inspired ukelele playing!

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Julian wanted to “marry” mommy, so he had to go pick out a ring, and when we talked about what love is. Image

More ornaments (why are these pictures jumbled?)

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Superheroes. Nuff Said. 

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encourage the art. right now he wants to be an artist. one day that will change. for now, i am soaking this UP. Image

 

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If you want to wear a tutu, wear a tutu man. Image

some of his first spelling and reading tests. Image

Puzzles. Puzles Puzzles! hand eye coordination and problem solving!Image

this was fun! he loved having a tangible example of how many he got right. 

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Rock Climbing for Physical Activity! 

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Mama had to make some inspirational art for his room. theres about 5 more like this. Image

Julians Share Jar. part of character bulding. he earns money for doing good deeds for others around the house (cleaning up his sisters toys, getting her milk, feeding the dog) without being asked, and then after he has a bunch he can take it to the humane society (or anywhere he wants but usually the humane society) and donate it to others. Image

He wanted to know why i left with my laptop. I explained I go to school and needed to do homework at starbucks. he asked if they could do theirs there the next time. Of COURSE! we had a blast! they had to be superheroes too. Maya Said 🙂ImageImage

The Easel has a been a great tool. Dry Erase and Chalk sides. he hasnt picked up on my ubliminal messaging yet. but he IS working on his past tense 🙂 

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Daddy time learning special games. Image

We write to the soldiers often and draw them pictures, having them included to write out the thanks or the drawings, Im sure boosts the oldiers spirits and also helps us to be thankful and to be practicing our letters and words. Image

I made Julian a treasure map with directions he followed around the house. at the end was a jar of simple goodies! (pennies, a notebook, erasers, etc)

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Love the expression. 

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“helping daddy” shows good hard manual labor is A OK. and helpful 🙂ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

This was our initial learning about vegetables. we talked aboutj it, then drew it so we could visualize it, then took a trip to the farmers market to see it in person that fruits and vegetables come from the ground!Image

This was the vet clinic at one of the learning museums around here. he LOVES it. Image

At Bring Your Kid To Work Day, i wrote on the paper at the desks and we practiced reading, because Daddy does a lot of reading and writing at work, and Mommy does a lot in school.Image

this became somewhat of a tradition after Julian read his first word. for any gifts we give him, a word is written on the packaging. Its been awesome. 

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Just some old fashioned workbook. 

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This was on our san francisco trip. I got to show my 18 month old, birds and water and boats and sky. Blue and Brown and up and down. it was fun to get her in the beautiful breeze!

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More Workbook. we have about 15, he chooses any given day. Image

Baby J writing with grandma back in the day. Image

Magna Doodle fun. unprompted. again, if they have the tools, they will use them!Image

more writing to the troops. 

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After my boy lost his first tooth, we wrote a letter to the tooth fairy with the tooth, and then the tooth fairy, Lucy (like loose-y haha) wrote him back ad instead of money, she gave him and his sister new toothbrushes and special wrestling cards since he loves wrestling. 

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The next series of pictures came from a couple stops on our trip to SImageImageImageImage

 

 

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Lessons from a son – Words.

Maybe Im hyperaware of words and how we say them and how we feel in response to the way certain things are phrased. but today my son touched my heart.

I began cleaning his room and made his bed, which, im honest, is not a normal occurrence.

 he was going for his tablet learning time in his room and he came right back out “Mama did you clean my room a little?!” i said yes and he says”THANKS MAMA! thats SO nice of you! i love it!” and then he goes back in and comes back again. 

“Mama?! did you make my bed up nice for me?” I nodded. he grinned really big. 

“Oh i love it i just love it!”

 

It made me think. how often do i go without showing true appreciation and gratitude for even the smallest of things? 

I know that feeling of greatness that my boy was so excited i had done something kind for him, and it didnt take much. justa made bed and a little picking up of his toys. Im definitely going to make a conscious effort to do more non-monetary things for my boy and my husband as well as to show appreciation for the things my family does for me. If i show true appreciation when my son picks up his toys, or puts his book back, or helps me do the laundry or puts his bowl in the sink or lets the puppy out or something, I am showing him that i appreciate his gentle and helpful spirit, and that is a lesson that will carry over much longer than just a simple Thank You. 🙂 

 

lesson learned SonShine!

 

 

What would your video say?

A friend of mine reached out for help to correct a hitting behavior in her toddler. She wanted to find a gentle way of correcting, and all of her ideas hadnt been working. so one of the things I suggested was what i used to help my son see his own “less than ideal” behavior: videotaping one of his tantrums, and showing him after the fact. The idea is that once they see themselves, they can identify the behavior isnt acceptable, same as they would if they saw someone else do it. It gives them a chance to step outside of the equation and see it as an outsider. 

But it got me thinking. I am less than perfecft and Ill admit it everyday. I sometimes feel guilty for calling myself a gentle parent, and sometimes I just have to say im striving for gentle parenting. 

My BIGGEST problem is raising my voice. Its easy to get carried away and raise your voice in anger. As a child, you figure out that raising your voice gets you HEARD and it stays with you. And it is hard to break the habit. I feel bad about it afterwards and I have gotten better and better, and in the process have gotten better at arguing with my husband too 🙂 

But after I gave her this advice about videotaping the hitting so her son could see it, aI began to think…What if someone recorded me and I saw it? I would be MORTIFIED. I KNOW i have gaps as a parent and have improvements that need to be made, and this is another reminder. Would I like to see these actions in action? no. I would HATE it. 

SO I am working on keeping my voice down in all areas, including when I need someone from the back of the house. it takes JUST a moment to get up and go to talk to the person I need, and it isnt as grouchy and demanding as yelling back to them. I bet it would make my husband feel better too. 

Just a thought. I cant seem to shake the thought that there is something I wouldnt want to see played back for me. and Im glad Im so dissatisfied with it. 

more thoughts on this when im not holding an 18 month old and typing with one hand 🙂

This is the kind of mom I am.

This is the kind of mom I am.

I got this from: http://www.upworthy.com/a-mom-had-plans-to-raise-her-boy-into-a-man-but-that-didnt-quite-work-out-3

I have always said that my babies will never hear me utter the words “you are no longer my child.” I will love them through anything that makes them, them.

If my j falls in love with a man, I will happily call that man my son in law and treat him to the same standard of treatment my son would deserve from a woman as well.

if my baby girl came to me and said “mama, my husband and i have decided to live as a polyamorous couple.” I would smile, kiss that forehead and tell her that I will love anyone she loves as long as they are good to her.

If either of them came to me and said “mum. Idont feel like im me in this body. I want to explore hormone treatments and therapies.” I would go into the counselor with them, sit with them when the hormones had any undesirable side effects, and love them just the same after the surgery was over.

and this isnt an agenda. it isnt political or rooted in anything other than love.
I held these babies in my arms after yearning for them for so long, and i promised them that i would be there for them through anything, do everything to make them happy and loved, and there is no no way that I could do anything other than just that. I love who they are and that includes EVERYTHING. I love that my julian doesnt like meat loaf. I love that Narae climbs onto everything. I love that they love each other and genuinely enjoy each others company. I love that Julian dances to everything and loves to draw and is atrracted to hip hop. I love that Im seeing personalities forming that are just who they are and arent influenced by me. and I will love learning who and how they love, the nice things they do, where they met and what their dreams are. its a part of them and i will love it. When i imagine Narae sitting on the end of the bed painting toenails with me and talking about life and who she has feelings for, gender doesnt play a role. When I imagine julian telling me he is going to propose, i dont have any preconceived notions. Im just here for them. i love them. be it polyamory or plural marriage or homosexuality or heterosexuality. be it gender reassignment or polyfidelity or crossdressing. it just doesnt matter because it doesnt change what they are to me. they are my heart. they are my HEART.

The following I wrote on the blog I keep for my son on National Coming Out Day of 2011:
“I wrote this on a page for acceptance of homosexuals.
This is honestly how I feel.

‘I was thinking today,”national coming out day”, that if my son or daughter ever came to me to come out, the only tears id cry would be tears of happinesss that I was a good enough mother that they knew they could tell me anything without judgement or sadness and that I would share in their everything, same as I would if they “came out” that they were straight. It would change nothing of my love for them. And I hope, when that day comes, that it be legal that they can marry the man or woman of their dreams 🙂 as long as you are good to those you love, and even those you don’t…you’ll never disappoint me (or the lord) babies. let no one tell you otherwise 🙂 Love you!’

You are not defined to me by the person you fall in love with babies. You, to me, are my baby. You are the one I give my heart to and set an example for. If you ever need to tell me anything at all about feelings in your heart never hesitate! I will not “tolerate” you. I will embrace you! You will always be my babies as long as you give love freely and responsibly and treat others well. Be safe, be smart, and know I’m here for you. “

The Wrong Milk.

My husband is wonderful. I will probably say that a lot here. 

but he is. 

One of the things he has been doing recently is making my gym time happen. He knows how much our health means to our future, and wants to see me succeed. Not only does this entail cooking the dinners (he is a FABULOUS home cook and I am SO blessed) and he meal plans and helps keep the calories low and food delish, but he also comes home from working everyday, gives me a kiss, and bonds with our babies while we go to the gym. EVERY DAY. WIthout needing a minute to sit and unwind, he jumps right in to fatherdom while I run off the work out.(is working out fun? NO. but the bottom line is i get 2 hours to myself every day with music :] its so sweet!)

He also offers to do one of the most mundane and overwhelming tasks on my mommy todo list: the Grocery Shopping Trip.  and he GLADLY does this WITH the children! Yesterday He came home to the children I had ready, and we had a good smooch, and then took separate cars, me with my workout clothes to the gym, and he, still dressed in work attire, with our children to the store with a meal planning list. before even sitting down for a minute! 

the gym is nearly next door to a large grocery store so I met him back over there and we loaded up and came home. I was so thankful, how could saying thank you even cover it? I stopped on the way to get gas, so he wouldnt have to worry about it the next day on the way to work as his commute is already a 30 mintue one, and returned to find him already cooking dinner. 

We unloaded the groceries and started putting them away. As i put the groceries away he pulled out some bathroom cleaner and took it to the bathroom, dropping some toilet cleaner in the pots as he went and then he returned and switched out all fot he lightbulbs in the kitchen with some energy efficient ones. 

 

I realized that I was nearly to the end of the bags and hadnt seen the coffee creamer. (I live and love on coffee more than anyone should) I had this urge to say “Hey honey where is the creamer?” and then decided not to. I mean, I should wait until Ive gone through all the bags in case I just hadnt seen it (SPOILER: it ended up being in the last bag). What if he HAD forgotten? I didnt want him to feel bad that he had forgotten something important to me. I realize I say these things often, and wonder how he must feel when I say something like that. especially after a logn trip to the store, after a logn day at work. I just didnt think about its effects before. But I know How i’d feel if i forgot something important to him. 

Not too long after I noticed I pulled the milk from the same bag and realized he had gotten the one on the list I told him not to. Without thinking, I mentioned it. “You silly. you got the wrong milk. I put it on the list to NOT get this one…” After I said it i felt horrible, even though it was lighthearted and not meanspirited at all. I just realized, What good comes out of me pointing that out? I could easily just tell him verbally next time “hey when you pick up the milk would you mind getting the other one instead of this one?” then he doesnt have to feel bad. 

I know to some it might sound minor, but in a way i was pointing out a negative, and making him feel bad over something that cant be changed in this moment. All he will remember next time is this experience. I realized that even though I had said Thank You and given him a hug and a kiss and reiterated how much i appreciated him, sometimes my other words asrent supportive of that. 

But Im glad i figured it out. Ive probably slipped like that hundreds of times in the last nearly 6 years of living with him. Minor, and after apologizing he said he didnt take offense to it, but it almost makes me wonder if subliminally and subconsciously I come across as unsupportive. and If i let this slip about milk and creamer, what else do i just say without thinking? 

just a thought. Another Day Another Lesson.

 

Impressing Myself.

My son LOVES to learn. 

I wish I could take credit for it, but most of the time i wonder how much is nature and how much is nurture. He knew all of his letters and numbers to 20 in english and spanish by 2ish. He read his first word not long after his 3rd birthday. He does addition and subtraction with excitement. we dont push. I offer 20 minute convos every couple days about learning things, and we have always just talked to him. we dont sit him down and make him learn. we DO have a family motto: “if it’s important enough to wonder, it’s important enough to know”. this applies to all things. exploring emotions, exploring desires and thoughts and ideas. but we dont force learning. We havent decided what route we will take with him. In our district there is no early entry even for advanced students, so he couldnt go to school until he is 5 regardless. we have a lot of thoughts on where we should have them educated, but more on those later. but right now, we just embrace each day with the learning opportunities it brings, and we dont have a structure for “school” or anything. 

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(learning where fruits and veggies come from through art.)

I have gotten a lot of comments about this 4 year old of mine, who is a master at problem solving and logic and strategy games like Bad Piggies and Amazing Alex. He is always looking for something to draw or build. He is wonderful. Ive never know the average or whatnot, because he is my first. I have such little to go on save for the kids I used to work with. Im just kinda new to it. But im consistent, and I am proud of that. I dont force it, but I push him a little outside of his comfort zone where i know the growth happens. He was not a big reader as a baby; he never cared. Until he could read, but even now he wants me to read to him. We share the books, and Ive created some books for him to read at different photobook websites, with pictures that matter to him, including his own art. I am proud of the encouragement I give. but Ive always felt like he just GOT it. and So i dont want to give it a label. I just want to give it to him. I dont take credit for it, and it makes me uncomfortable to. But sometimes, like today, he gives me credit inadvertently. 

 

Today we did a sweet lesson with a fun game we play where the child answrs math questions and earns baskets to shoot for every right answr. he made me giggle when he did this for 45 mintues straight and after each answer he got right he would raise his hands and say “boom” so matter of factly. He loves basketball and he loves learning and he got most right, save for some confusion with the number 13 being 1-3 and not 3-1. he did amazing. 

So after he was done we started talking about seasons. I was surprised to hear he had already known what 3 of them were (he knows there are four, but thought it was Summer Fall Autumn and Winter). So we talked about it. He knows Winter is when it snows and its super cold, and he knows that in Fall the leaves change. He said they turn Orenk…his own word for “Orange Red and Pink smooshed together”. He says in Summer its really hot and we go swimming and the sun is out a lot. 

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(using the game “draw something” to practice reading, writing and drawing. he loves to draw, and we could really spend a lot of fun laughing and learning. This picture came when he read the word Sundae, and the only experience he had with a sundae was an episode of sesame street, oscar has a mint chocolate chip and fish sundae. i laughed because i got the reference. and then promptly decided i need to show this kid a sundae)

 

I was blown away. I asked him “you know so much! how did you learn about that?! where did you hear about the seasons?” he responds with , “you talk about those things mommy. in the summer you tell me about the summer. and when it was winter time lasterday (how he refers to anything in the past) you told me about the winter time.” he goes on to talk about hot chocolate in the wintertime, but also cold milk because he likes it, etc etc. he is telling me stories of things we did in these seasons because he remembers conversations and events where I had told him about the seasons. learning when he didnt even think it was learning. not little chunks of education…instead just learning as life progresses. it made me so proud, so excited to hear. and I couldnt give anyone else credit but myself and my husband. 

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(him playing the basketball addition game on http://www.abcya.com where he earns the shots with correct answers. he really responds well to technology and hands on learning and loves to learn this way at times, especially with math.)

Its just nice to see that he picks up on every little tidbit. Even if im just getting us ready for swimming and im applying sunblock, telling him its Summer and the Summer Sun is hot and we need to put this lotion onto protect us from the rays of the sun. 

Or we are getting dressed to play outside and we put on galoshes because its Winter in Oregon and it rains all the time and we dont want to get the bottom of our pants wet in the Winter Rain. 

Or that the trees turn different colors and that gives us Autumn Trees. 

He told me about Winter trees (trees i dubbed winter trees last year when he saw a lot of trees without leaves in December) and evergreens (those Oregon Ponderosa Pines that never lose their fluffy green). He listens. he learns. he retains. 

 

What an awesome thing. and scary. makes me wanna make sure that I am on my toes as tot he things that i say! Ears Are a Listenin’!

 

 

also we learned about the solar system more today. he knows all of his planets and has always been fascinated by them (he asked me today why i didnt name pluto when we were talking, and I had to explain to him the Great Pluto Debate and inform him of Dwarf Planets I have dubbed “baby planets” for now). SO we checked out this site and learned about rotation and axis. very briefly. We stopped when he lost interest and also some of it is just too dang heavy. But hi was in awe of learning about the Equator and how when its Summer here its Winter south of it. which prompted discussion on earth and the involvement wit the sun and the planets…you see the connection 🙂

furthermore, i call Uranus Yer-uh-nuss, and he STILL laughs. apparently its just funny across the board without having ever heard the name yer-anus 🙂

http://www.spaceandmotion.com/cosmos-solar-system-planets-sun-moon.htm

 

 

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4. and all of its sounds.

My 4 year old makes sounds. ALL THE TIME.

I try very hard to be gentle, understanding, compassionate, and put myself on a 4 year old level.

4 is a loud age in some kids. 4 means Beeping. and Mooing. and Roaring. and shrieking. and yelling and laughing and guffawing.

not to menton MY 4 has ALWAYS been a shrieker. since he was little he would shriek in excitement. Scream in anger or frustration. screech in anticipation or laughter. Ive been told by many who have experienced it that its deafening. Ive seemingly been able to get through it. until the noises became CONSTANT.

add in now that my near 18 Month Old has entered a Parrot phase, and all i hear is them shriek back and forth.

my day consists of these sounds.

and Angry bird sounds.

and Car Crash sounds.

and bad piggie explosion sounds.

and self made mouth music for him to dance to.

and repeating EVERYTHING he hears on any program (tv, movie, me reading a book, etc) that he finds hilarious.

its a VERY loud age.

Id be lying if i said that I havent lost my mind a few times. right now as we speak, what prompted this post was the simple fact that I was losing my cool. and i went to tell my son, as i have a few times before, that he CAN make the noises, but in ANOTHER room. I will also admit my tone wasnt as nice as it should have been. not a yell, but a stern tone that should be reserved for correction, not suggestion.

Why?! Why does HE have to take his positive happy noises to another place? why cant i take my crummy attitude and lack of understanding for his learning and imagination to another room? why cant I remind him gently his sister is sleeping and that let him play in the living room, furthest from his sleeping sister?

My wonderful husband recognized my lack of sleep playing a role in my crabbycakeness and decided to take our loud 4 outside to wash the car with him. Then i hear the doorbell and I cringe. WHO RINGS THE DOORBELL WITH A SLEEPING BABY?! sigh. I unlock the door.

My 4 comes running back in with these:

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He had already forgotten I was crabby after MINUTES, even though I was still being a grump as I write this confession.

He says  “Mahmee I got you three because i really love you!”

I melted a little inside, still ashamed of my reaction to him before, and also just a little worn down. I thanked him, told him they were beautiful (i LOVE that this boy finds what adults consider weeds to be beautiful. also i have a dandelion tattoo with the childrens names on it on my chest where they can blow their wishes, and so i love that he will always find it beautiful :]) and then I apologized.

“Im sorry I was cranky buddy. thank you for getting me flowers and loving me even when i was cranky.”

he smiled.

“Hey, i love you even when youre cranky right?” he says. I nod.

“and You love me even when im cranky right?” I smile and nod again, already feeling this heart soften even more. he grins.

“thanks mom. i love you! im gonna go help dad now.”

School again. by a 4 year old.

Its human for this 4 year old to be noisy. to forget his sleeping sister. to make sounds that make him feel like he actually IS an Angry Bird, or that he actually IS a dancer and he Has to make his own music.

Its also human for me to want quiet for my tired baby. to want some downtime with my family on Husbands only day off.  The MAIN difference here is that I am the adult. I have learned appropriate times for appropriate things. I have learned when you need to give in and when you need to roam independently and when you need to learn and when you need some space. I have learned that if you dont like something, you take yourself out of the equation. I am holding my son to these standards that have taken me many more than 4 years to achieve. So I must concede this round. let him make his sounds outside. Ill gently correct him a million times if i need. no one ever said parenting was spposed to be a One and Done job and we’d never need consistency. if anything its the expectation that it is the opposite.

Im grateful that 4 can readily accept my apologies and bring me flowers. I could learn a thing or two from him and I am.

Epiphanies!

 

“Carlyyyy, come here baby. come here Carlyyyy. come on. yeah, lets go. oh you are so excited arent you? yeah come on carrllllyyyy. Its okay Carly, its okay! We’re going potty, we’re going. youre doing good!”

This is what I heard this morning after I asked my 4 year old to let our puppy from her crate to use the restroom and she nervously and excitedly started whining.

I smiled. That EXACT tone, those EXACT words. everything is very reminiscent of the way I talk to him.

my son uses the gentlest, sweetest tone with Carly and says the same words that I say with him and Narae. That shows me something. It reminds me that he recalls and remembers it. His gentleness is from me, how he reassures others is from my reassurance, which also means that how he reacts in anger comes from me. mind = blown and kind of ashamed. I know it only seems logical. I mean, where else is he learning things? And then I had two epiphanies. 

1. He picks up on those little things possibly within one hearing of them. Im not a yeller. I try very very hard to not yell at my children. I want to nurture and lead them gently. But I have slipped a few times. and with those few times, my son has learned another way to process his own anger. The thing is all those other times I was angry, I didnt SEEM angry, and so he didnt pick up on that cue. So first lesson learned: Use the right words. SAY “Im angry because of this”…or “Im hurt because of this.” or “I get very upset when you hit.” or “I get very upset when you say hurtful things.” If he KNOWS thats how Im reacting when Im angry, maybe he will pick up on that. in his eyes, he might only sense my anger from the tone of my voice when I have yelled, and thats how he processes it. And even slipping one time can show him a behavior I dont want in any of us.

Second Epiphany: if he can pick up on things after only a few times, then what is the company I keep telling him? teaching him? What if we are around another friend of mine with a child, and he sees a spanking take place? or he hears disrespect being allowed between children? Hitting or name calling going unpunished? Or me not jumping into reinforce to him that this behavior is not what we do in our family? What if he sees children not sharing, and children not being kind to one another or not being helpful to another? Even just one or two experiences can imprint our childrens lives and their easily molded subconscious. Not that I surround myself with a great deal of people I wouldnt approve of or anything, but I can think of a couple that are great parents but just do things differently than what I hope to show my babies. thats hard for me to realize that just because i love and embrace who they are as people even though they are different, doesnt mean those behaviors arent being shown to my child. It means that I need to control those surroundings more. If he is around someone who sounds annoyed when asked a question…maybe his subconscious takes that. If he is around someone who is asked to do something and they respond “I dont want to.” He might pick that up. If he is around someone who says hurtful words, he may not realize those are hurtful and use them. think of any child who has ever used a curse word they have heard even once, without the knowledge its not appropriate? That one my child is definitely guilty of. Its hard to retrain your brain to say Crum instead of everything else 😉

I just need to remind myself constantly that everything can be a teacher, an influencer, a gamechanger. everything is part of the mold. Knowing that what am i going to do differently? Choose his surroundings better and if I find myself internalizing thoughts on something I see on the playground or in a friends home, my son and I need to have a quick talk about it, so he is reminded those behaviors arent embraced by our families. 

Im learning bubba. I am. Im trying to give you the best future possible. Im hoping I get better at it 🙂

This. all of this.

This. all of this.

Im usually not a sharer of my beliefs, or i try not to, because I dont like debates being started on something Impassionate about. But I couldnt help this. Who would disagree?
I am SO guilty. How many times have I asked my Son to not make certain sounds, or more recently “dont repeat everything you hear on the television…or book…or radio.” or even “Stop running all around the kitchen island!” Ive even caught myself worried about bothering the neighbors with outside screaming and excited play. Im so caught up in the moment that I forget that my admitted “annoyance” to a sound or my worry about other peoples thoughts is sheltering his learning. furthermore, he throws a fit these days, big old Four YEar Old fits. and thats how he needs to process it. sometimes I throw 26 Year Old fits. I just have someone to help balance me out. I have a partner, a helper, a comrade. My boy needs that. Why is it that I understand the 18 Month Old fits more than the 4 Year Old ones?
Im going to get better. I am. I need gentle reminders sometimes, but I guess we never really stop learning 🙂