Can I just have a moment here? I have been on this earth for 30 years. I have been walking for about 29 years, speaking English for about 28 years, and have been playing the violin for about 26 years. I’d say I’m pretty proficient at these things. So when I look at my parenting skills and realize I’ve been doing this for almost 4 years, I know I have LONG way to go. I’m just a baby here.
But I do have one thing I’d like to toot my horn about… I’ve been working - WORKING for all 4 years. She’s brilliant, I can’t take credit for a lot of the things she can do, or how early she started doing them. But she came out headstrong, and if I had let her, she could have been pretty selfish. All kids are, but I felt it was more important that I teach her empathy and obedience first. I had to be around her all day long, so no way was I going to let her treat me poorly. She doesn’t bark “PLEASE” as an after-thought if she needs something, she asks me in a complete sentence the first time. And “I want” is absolutely forbidden in our home. It was self preservation - I had to teach her manners for my own sanity. I need to be treated like a human, not a slave. I’m not saying she’s perfect, but I’ve put a lot of hard work in - be tougher than I wanted to be and be more patient than I wanted to be and you know what? I was right! It’s really awesome to see her be a big sister - because her first reaction is to want him to get out of her way, but then I see the wheels turn in her head and she makes an concerted effort to treat him the way she’d want to be treated. It’s pretty much the awesomest thing ever. (sidenote - have your kids read Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller)
And one thing I’m kind of proud of? After there’s an issue, a meltdown because she didn’t get her way - we practice for the next time. So we pretend like we’re in the grocery store, walking down a hall and she pretends she sees something she likes and says “Mommy, may I please have that??” I say no, and she smiles big and says “Okay mommy!” Seriously. I work at this. When her teacher said she had trouble listening to directions at school, we made a game of it by me giving her directions and her following them (and then trading jobs for giggles) and the teacher told me today she was AWESOME!. When she acts up in church, we come home and she practices sitting reverently in the Reverent Chair. It’s not pleasant, but if you don’t practice doing things right, how are you supposed to know how to do them??
So the other day in the grocery store, I wandered aimlessly for an hour trying to remember what I needed and keep the Dude from crawling out of the cart and she kept seeing things she wanted. And every time I said no, she’d smile big and say “Okay mommy!” And I’d kiss her on the cheek and tell her how proud I was of her.
I’m just thrilled that something I did actually works.