Friday, May 22, 2009

Life With Joey and Andy: What I Have Learned So Far

One of the great joys of having children are all the things you learn from them. They can teach you a lot about dealing with life, people, and reality; they bring you a breath of youth and new eyes.

1. People do things for a reason. No matter what you think of another's actions and words, none of it comes ex nihilo. That kid tantruming in the store aisle? That's not random. Is the child tired, hungry, bored, overwhelmed? That adult tantruming in the store aisle? That's not random, either...

2. Don't judge people without knowing those reasons. Overreaction, or inappropriate reaction, makes everything worse. Even the Witching Hour has a reason- tired, overwhelmed kids excited about the day and seeing each other easily turns to bickering, whining, and hitting. Distract and Engage works far better than Yell Until your Throat Is Sore, and is far less traumatizing for everyone involved. Assuming someone is "just spoiled" or "being unreasonable" leads to trouble. This screaming is reasonable to the child; it is our job as a parent to sleuth out the reason and work on the cause, rather than trying to just treat the symptoms.

3. Let them be in control sometimes. This one is very hard on me, much harder than I was expecting. If you don't let kids have control, they don't learn how to do for themselves. Yes, it is faster and easier for me to make the peanut butter sandwich, zip the jacket, and water the flowers. However, it is important for Joey and Andy to learn to make their own lunch, zip their own clothes, and care for our garden and world. Assuming competence includes allowing them to practice and demonstrate that competence. Oh, and if you let a child have control of a hose, they will spray you. Just saying.

4. There is a whole person in that package. My folks used to say this about babies all the time: "There's a whole person in that tiny little package!" But it is true. Your children are not you. They are their own people. Its one of those lessons you have to learn on your own, no one can tell you (no matter how many times they tell you). These boys are two very different people. As I told the school folks on registration night, Andy isn't Joey, or even Joey's twin; he's a compliment. Joey is laid-back, Andy is a firecracker. Raised in the same house by the same parents. Wow.

Yeah, there's lots more. But it's been a rough week. So take one more lesson: Life is short. Squish your kids often.


Sally's World said...

what a great post, all things that help us look, deal and treat people better....i may print this off and take it into the jury deliberating room next week...they all need to learn this!!!

Stimey said...

These are great things to remember. Especially the squishing part.