Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Art of Listening, or Better Yet, The Art of Follow Through

Not sure what is in the air today, but from the get go, we had issues with listening and following directions on and off throughout the morning.  By 8 this morning, we had already face a handful of melt downs, maybe a fit or two, and not following directions.  My oldest hadn't even been up for an hour.  On the flip side, the in between moments, he was a great helper and listener, was so nice to his brother, had fun, got us all laughing a time or two, had some really great ideas, and were filled with so much sweetness.

It may have been the late to nap yesterday that cascaded into this morning and being tired.  Or maybe too much stuff going on and not enough down time, so it was his way of pushing back. Or maybe it's just because he is three and life of a three year can be tough, especially when you add a sibling into the mix.  Who knows really and if I could actually pinpoint the problem or the figuring it out, I could write a book and make millions.  But, the best I can do is guess, try to ask, or better yet watch him.

Which, as the day goes on, I will be watching more intently.  However, this post is not just about listening...and for all of us to listen...but the art of follow through as well.  That, my friends, is sometimes so hard to do as a parent, especially when the tears begin to fall.

Generally, with a few warnings, most of the time T listens.  When he is having a hard time, we say, "if you don't _________(fill in the blank), then you will loose _______ (fill in the blank)". Rarely, do we actually have to dole out the consequence once he hears what he will loose.   However, every now and then, the consequence needs to be fulfilled.  This morning was one of those times.

He was supposed to clean up.  He started, then decided to color.  I asked him again to please clean up.  He really wanted to add color to something.  I gave him one minute and set the timer.  When the timer went off, it was back to cleaning.  Then, he decided to color on his chalk board.  After which, I told him to put the chalk down and finish cleaning up.  Upon ignoring me, I told him he would loose one story if he didn't follow directions.  It wasn't until I had to take away that one story, that he finally listened, cleaned up, and went up for stories and nap. 

However it didn't end there, once we got upstairs he kept trying to pick out three stories. Again and again, I said "nope, only two".  Then the flood gates opened really wide.  He loves stories and loves to read.  He even had picked out earlier what he wanted.  But yet, we could only do two.  He kept trying different books, but always ending up with three.

The more he tried, the more I said no, the more the tears came.  It was hard.  And then it got to the point where I had to leave the room and let him be.  I closed the door and got A ready for nap.  Once he was settled for his nap, I went back in.

Before I did though I prayed.  I prayed for God to give me the right words to say.  The first thing I did when I opened the T's door?  I got down on the floor, pulled him into my lap, and hugged him tight.  He calmed down instantly.  And then I said, "I love you".  I left it at that for awhile.  In a moment when I could have barged into his room, yelled, reprimanded, I choose to hug, say I love you, and then wait.

A few minutes passed and he asked if he could have three stories.  I said no softly.  His response, why. I gave him the reason and he left it at that.  He told me which two stories and we read and snuggled.  When we were done reading, we snuggled some more.  He said that he really wanted three stories.  I said I know, but we could read more after nap and then have three stories for bed time.

I will admit, I am no where near a perfect mom.  I don't want to be, but I will say there are times I try to be.  Sometimes, the best thing to do is walk away for a moment and then come back, hug, talk, and let it go.  There is no sense in talking to someone when their emotions are running high and they are in complete melt down mode.

Sure it would have been easier to give in, give him those three stories.  But what would that have taught him?  What would he have learned?  It's in those tough moments that we truly learn.  It's hard to say no and stick to it, especially when there are tears involved.  In the long run though, we are better for it.  I can almost guarantee, that he and I will talk about what happened at least one more time today and he will share about it when his dad gets home.  He will process it and so will I.  But in the end, the most important thing he needs to know and to hear, is that no matter what, I love him.  Despite the behavior choices, I still love him.  Always do and always will.  Saying I love you is one of the hardest things sometimes, but it means so much. 

Follow through with what you say and in the end, let them know that you love them.  And sometimes, in those moments when we want to push away, what we really need to do is pull in and wrap our arms around tightly.  That is what brings comfort, that is what brings calm, that is what brings us together.