Monday, April 22, 2013

Growing Up

The boys are really growing up. The last week has been full of changes as we shift our family dynamic around our growing boys.
There has been a silver lining to my injuries. (two actually, but one shouldn't count lots of hydrocodone as a blessing in public). The silver lining has been finding out how much the boys have grown and how much more responsibility they are happy to handle. It turns out I've been babying them quite a bit.
I have learned that they can easily go in the bathroom, brush their teeth, turn on the shower, get in and clean themselves, get out, dry themselves, and put on jammies. I used to go in and help and supervise and do and they didn't need me to. They take pride in doing it themselves. ( I should know this. This is the montessori way.)
They have also started to wash their own dishes after a meal and put them in the dishwasher, water the plants, take out the garbage, put away their clothes from the top of the dryer after I fold them and keep their bathroom neat.
Have you ever read the Easter book, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes? If you haven't you really should. It's an incredible book with beautiful illustrations. In it, there are lots of little bunnies and they all have jobs they do to keep the house running. The boys' new responsibilities remind me of this book a lot.
They do these new chores with minimal grumbling. They are proud of their accomplishments.
Yesterday, Davis and Sam asked if they could get out the sprinkler toy and play in the water outside. My first reaction was no, because I was thinking of all the extra work it would make for me. But then I rethought it and asked them if they would be willing to handle all responsibilities of the activity without me. They assured me they would and indeed, they did. They got the toy out of the garage, hooked it to the hose, put on their swim clothes, played, turned it off, put it away, went to the showers, properly hung up their swim trunks and got in clean clothes. It was awesome!
We have also been making some break throughs with our dynamics with our kids. I have been feeling really overwhelmed this semester with the kids' homework, piano practice and lessons. I felt pressure to make sure they had a sport, an art, socialization, great academic experiences. We have all been doing too much and not enough of it is fun. None of us have been enjoying each other. Michael is constantly working these days and even when he is not, he is stuck to his smart phone, checking on work. The kids, first Sam and then Davis, started throwing huge fits and the battle of wills between Davis and his father have become epic. We realized that Davis is truly a strong willed child and we felt bewildered on how to deal with this.
I read, The Strong Willed Child, by Dobson and hated it. It advocated a method that felt really wrong to me. I couldn't see us coming out of the end of that as friends. I decided I needed to reframe my thought process about parenting and go back to what felt right.
This week, we have worked on slowing down. We have been not trying to shape the kids' behavior, but instead, trying to sympathize with their plight. I have worked on filling up their buckets with love when they are not in a fit. We've been giving them one on one time. I bought Bernadette Noll's Slow Family Living, and we've been trying some of those ideas out.
Mostly, I was really worried before that I was raising them to walk all over me. I was afraid that unless I held a firm rein, Davis would not turn out to be all that he could be. I"m still afraid of that. But we are going to try this method and see if it works. I know the fits are already less and the battles of will are less, mostly because we refuse to battle. I'm not being a total pushover. I'm holding firm on arguments that matter, but I'm letting go of the ones that don't. I'm hoping Davis will learn to be a kind, responsible adult by example and not by us bending his will.
I don't know. I don't know anything about raising these kids. This is a work in progress. But I do know that the boys are growing up and our life and family dynamic is changing. I know that I'm enjoying the time and space we have made for each other this week and that I want to keep that going. And I know that I love my family more than anything in the world.
P.S. Aren't sleeping kids the sweetest thing ever?

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