Lest you think it’s all tantrums and crying jags over here, let me assure you that sometimes there are good days. And, surprise, surprise, they often are the result of an attitude shift on my part. Shocking!
The bottom line, of course, is that I am the only one with the mental capacity to be in charge of my emotions. Yes, I get frustrated with Charles’s four-year-old outbursts and tests of will, and yes, I am tired. Hard not to be, since Charles seems to be going through a phase of waking once or twice a night (nightmares, maybe?), and Jamie continues to do so (teeth, still), and Tony comes home at all hours of the night (except when he doesn’t come home at all, like Monday night, when he actually worked all night long, came home at 5 am to change for basketball, came back after basketball at 7:45 am to shower and change, and then headed back to work for the day). But I am still the adult in these situations, and it’s up to me to maintain my cool. Not easy, but I’m working on it.
I mentioned the book incident, right? Charles tore up the pages of my library book this weekend when he was mad at me for not letting him have treats before lunch. I got upset and expressed my anger in a much more forceful way than I maybe ever had before – it’s not often the kids see me yell in anger. After I calmed down, which took me probably a whole day, I started preparing Charles to make amends. I told him that he made a mistake and he would have to admit that mistake and apologize for it. Not to me; to the librarian. I repeated this for a few days and then yesterday we went to the library.
I’ll admit to being apprehensive. What would he do? Would he refuse to speak to the librarian? Would he refuse to apologize? Would he throw a fit and kick and scream and tell me, “No!”?
He performed admirably:
Me: This is Charles. He has something to say.
Me: Charles? This is the librarian. What have you come to tell her?
Charles: … I’m sorry I got angry and wrecked the book.
The librarian was gracious, I paid for the book, then we went to play Legos in the kids’ section.
I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am of him. He didn’t hide, he didn’t get upset or kick or scream or flop to the floor. He simply said what he had to say and waited quietly while we finished our business (not so his brother, who ran off in all his toddler-waddle glory to find the toys). And I told him I was proud of him. And later, after dinner, I took him for a treat and a little fun time in the grocery store with me and his uncle (what? The grocery store isn’t fun? It is when you’re four, you go at night so it’s mostly deserted, and you run like crazy down the aisles after you charging your batteries with
sugar hot chocolate).
And you know what? I’m proud of me, too. I was positive all day yesterday, even when I had to reprimand Charles for not listening or following directions. I know I won’t be able to maintain such an attitude indefinitely, but it’s often worth the effort to grind my teeth, put a smile on my face, and choose to say “race you to the car!” instead of “Charles! I’ve asked you to get in the car twice now! Let’s go or I’m going to take away that toy in your hands!”
See? I’m learning.