Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year, New Rule

I should just fess up right now. There is, from time to time, a bit of yelling that occurs in Kidletville. I am embarrassed to admit it, but I am a yeller. And I hate it. I hate that my kids, who are both in school all day, are home with me, awake, for a grand total of 5 hours a day and I spend at least a combined total of an hour yelling about something. That’s not a productive use of our time. And it’s definitely not fun. Even worse, I’m setting an example for them that makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t want them yelling at my grandkids like this.

If you are a yeller, too, you’re probably defending me right now, and for that, I thank you. But the truth is, there are other ways for me to get the kids to do the things that need doing. So after a lot of thinking, we’re starting with a mission statement. I wish I could take credit for this, but once again, I must bow down to the power of pinterest. Unfortunately, I can’t find the original link.

Anyway, what started out as someone’s house rules has evolved into our family mission statement. There are even Bible verses to go along with each rule. Here it is:

In our Family, We

1. Love God & love each other;
2. Listen & Obey the 1st Time;
3. Use kind words in a kind voice;
4. Are honest & loyal;
5. Have a servant’s heart;
6. Ask permission & forgiveness.

That’s it. Six simple statements that define who and what Kidletville can be.

That’s the first Pinterest Jewel I found. The second was a copy of “The Art of Enforceable Statements for School.”  As I was reading through the suggestions for turning your ineffective statements into “words of gold” that are laced with “love and logic”, it hit me like a ton of bricks. This just might be the way for me to diffuse the tension that arises in my house. And so I tried it. With legos.

Another think I should fess up to is that I hate LEGOS. Well, that’s not exactly true. I actually like to build with them. But I hate stepping on them. Which tends to happen. A lot.  So, on New Year’s Day, before we headed over to the In-Laws house for corn beef and cabbage, I went in to the kidlet’s crib and found all of their legos scattered around the room. I calmly walked back to the living room and informed them that we would be leaving as soon as the legos were picked up. Kidlet #1 reminded me we were supposed to be at Grandma’s by one. I told him we could be late. After a second of hesitation, he books it to his room with Kidlet #2 dragging his feet behind him. (Kidlet #2’s cleaning tactics are a whole other post.)

After about ten minutes, I walk in and see them playing. Now, this is where the concept of turning your words into gold kicked in. Normally, I would have seen this distraction as defiance or disrespect, even though I know in the ego-centric world, it’s a younger version of my own “shiny thing” syndrome. (Oh… another post topic… sweet… and I just did it again.)

Back to now… instead of yelling, I repeated what I told them originally. “We will leave when all the legos are in the lego head. Would you like me to set the timer to help remind you?”

At first, they looked at me like I was an alien. You could see they were trying to figure out if this was a new mom psychological tactic where no matter what they say, some kind of tongue lashing is about to be unleashed. Like wild dogs in the woods, they cautiously said yes to the timer. I brought it in, set it for 10 minutes and then left the rest up to them. Ten minutes later, without screaming and crying, we were getting bundled up, their task completed.

Now, I’m not a fool. Once quiet afternoon does not a change make, but it gave me hope that if I could retrain the way I speak, and ultimately teach them, then the whining and the fighting, and the “you broke my heart by yelling at me” (Yeah, Kidlet #1 has the guilt trip thing down) disasters might be avoidable.

And if this were to happen, well let’s just say, Kidletville will be a much more peaceful place to live and might help me win my re-election for Mayor… which is pretty much a lock… the natives can’t cook for themselves… yet.

What parenting changes do you plan on making in the coming year?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013: The Year of Digging Deeper

For Christmas, Kidlet #1 got a science lab kit from my mom. There are several activities for him to choose from and today, he decided to be a paleontologist and dig for dinosaur bones. At first, the task was tedious. In his defense, it was a pretty big chunk of dirt and there weren’t any cracks for him to exploit. But he kept at it. And while the dust was flying, he uncovered the toes of what would become his T-Rex model.

This got me to thinking about the New Year and Resolutions. I stopped making them a few years ago. It seemed pointless. I bet half of us have given up by the end of the month… and that’s being generous. It’s probably more like the end of the week. Which is sad, if you think about it.

I mean, we start the year with hope that we’re going to be proactive and change our lives but we soon fall back into the same old habits we had on New Year’s Eve. Why? Because change is hard? Of course it is. Maybe it’s because we’re really not that committed to our resolution in the first place. Perhaps we’re just making them because that’s what you do on the January 1st. You make a grand proclamation and then take bets to see who the first person is to cave. It’s normally the person who swears they’re going to lose weight as they load up their plate with queso and chips. (Yep, that was me last year.)

But I believe, at the moment that resolution is made, the intent to alter the course your life is on is genuine. The problem is, like the block of clay that hid the dino bones from few, is that it’s hard to figure out where to start. In the beginning, it’s overwhelming. But as I watched Kidlet #1, who has never been accused of sitting in one place for too long, hack away at that brick, walking away when he needed to and then coming back to try some more, I realized that grand proposals are just that. They are moments where we dare to dream we will be mighty. It’s what happens when the rubber meets the road, or in this case, when the mallet meets the chisel, that determines are success. By the end of the night, the block was nothing more than rubble of varying sizes. And sitting proudly with his competed skeleton was Kidlet #1. Accomplishment written across his face and an excitement for dinosaurs the likes of which our house has never seen.

So in 2013, there will be no grand gestures or proclamations in Kidletville. We will not announce our resolutions, but rather survey our village and determine what really matters to our family. And, like that block of dirt, we will find a place to begin and start digging deeper until we unearth the bones we need to reshape who we are as a family and what we desire as individuals.

Now, before you think I’ve gotten all soft and mushy, rest assured, Kidletville may not always be a fun place to hang out. I foresee attempted coup de tates but the locals and more than one heated town council meeting regarding changes, but in the end, we will be better for it and I’m pretty sure they won’t vote me out. At least, not until Kidlet #1 can drive and Kidlet #2 can cook.