It seems every four months or so, my three sweet children (6,4,2) need Cardon Boot Camp. If I had an image of an actual boot kicking them in the rear, I would post it here instead-lol. It seems no matter how smoothly things can be going, every few months, suddenly they gang up and toss away all rules and respectful behavior and just push every single ‘RED-DON’T TOUCH’ button they can find. During this transition from smooth to crunchy, an overwhelming sense of laziness strikes and I feel like I am suddenly in the “reactive” seat rather than the “proactive” seat. By then I am drained and drowning in Virginia Beach Crazy Children Land (I could charge admission!) Then we hit the tipping point. This is when I hear my insides scream (okay, I admit, sometimes it is out loud), “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!” And then my survival instincts kick in, I start to reach for sanity, and yearn for smooth and not crunchy. What ends up happening, without fail, every single time is the following:
1) I think ahead. I am not reactive. I anticipate what they will do, what they need and am on top of it. The faces on them when I choose to present a snack to them, rather than them begging and whining for one is enough that I really should be able to handle that on a daily or at least very regular basis.
2) I am on the floor. On the floor, we get to see life from their perspective. Life becomes a little less serious, and a little more kid-friendly. Tickling, laughing, puzzles, board games and generally exciting things happen when getting eye-level with the wee ones.
3) I spend the time. After hours, days, or even weeks of a child acting out, there is not a doubt in my mind that I need to nurture and spend additional quality (key word: QUALITY) one-on-one time with that child.
This issue of spending quality time is actually one of the most recurring conversations I actually have with my husband. Maybe you know the one too? Ours goes a little something like this:
7:30pm – kids are in bed (we plop down in the den):
me: ” so do you have some time we can talk?”
him (eyes on the computer):” of course… what do you want to talk about…?”
me: “well, we just have a lot going on… what are you doing on the computer?”
me (immediately annoyed): “nothing is not an answer. can you close the laptop, so I can see your mouth move…?”
him (huge sigh): “FINE. It’s closed. What do you want to talk about?”
7:59pm. The remote control comes out and the TV goes on…
me: “uh. are you kidding me? I thought we were talking?…”
him: “I just want to press pause on my show…go ahead…”
me: “what was that noise?”
him: “my phone – a text… hang on a minute…”
Ever heard this one before? Perhaps we don’t whine the same way as a three year old. That red hot anger and frustration luckily dissipates and we get back on track. We have a great marriage and we know how to roll with the tides. At the end of the day, we attempt to actually respect and embrace that we each have different needs even if we don’t fully understand them.
How does all of this translate to our children? It really is the same for them… In my dream world, my husband would occasionally come to me, not me to him, asking me the questions and initiating a time for us to talk because he genuinely wanted to spend some quality (DROID FREE) time. You know, the same dream where he brings dinner home and sets up a nice quiet place to eat it. Makes me feel SOOOO good to even think about… and those times are memorable and are a dream come true. Same with the kiddos. When they are begging, whining, screaming- maybe they are looking to me to put the computer down, the broom away, the laundry aside. They cannot always voice that they want/need us without the acting out, whining, etc. I need to realize that when it comes to spending quality time with the people I love, whether we are seven or thirty-seven, it is a need that sometimes is hard to express, and the timing may not be ideal. In the end, we all just want the same thing. If I could attempt to give that extra special dreamy attention, if I could give a little something unexpected just a little more often, I think our behavior problem every 4 months might just roll a little more smoothly.