Friday, December 30, 2011

Blue Christmas

Christmas was rough this year.

I take that back. It was horrible. There, I've said it. It only took me a week to say. It was horrible.

We seem to be in a .... complaining phase .... around our house. Grace whines every time she doesn't get precisely what she wants within 30 seconds of asking for it (or within 30 seconds of her thinking about it but forgetting to ask), and Clare says NO! to everything.

A friend and I once had a conversation about how much harder it is to be a calm parent than one that yells and hits. These last few weeks have been a challenge. I have never (and will never) hit either of the girls, but I find myself yelling so much more that I want to, in a primitive attempt to raise my volume over theirs in an emotional (nonsensical) attempt to have my desires heard too.

It is soul crushing, this new feeling of parenting failure. I keep oscillating between thinking it is just two and four year old growing pains, and wondering if we are to blame for the constant poor behavior and we are doing our jobs wrong.

Maybe it is both.

And in admitting that, comes new stomach churning worries that the behaviorisms of our parents that haunt us and are constantly fought against are seeping into our girls lives too. Are we expecting too much of them? Are we too quick to take out our frustrations with frowns and sharply spoken orders? Are we too quick to drown those frustrations in an extra large glass of wine?

The answer is probably yes to all three, but how do we change that? How do you teach a two year old that it is not OK to climb on the kitchen table during dinner without frowns and sharp words? How do you teach a four year old about patience after the same request has been made 10 times in a row without frowns and sharp words?

Matt and I have spent a lot of time taking about the future lately. Four months from now, 12 months from now, three years from now. How our future will be brighter, relaxed and secure. For now though, I am worried about the now.

Tomorrow starts another three day weekend.


vertigob said...

Yup, we had kind of a blue Christmas as well. Unfortunately, in our case, 3 and 5 aren't any easier. I don't know if it helps, but you aren't the only one with these fears, doubts and issues. Take care and just keep doing what you are doing. Your girls are wonderful.

LazyBones said...

It's not anything you're doing wrong! Whining, NO, crawling on tables, repeating requests like a broken record: all completely normal for 2 and 4! It just means your girls are right on track. :)

That being said, there might be some things you could do to increase the peace. My 3 year old can be incredibly impatient and repeats himself like nobody heard him the first 100 times! I say, as soon as he gets started: how can you ask for that in a way that makes people want to listen and help? As soon as he asks nicely I make a huge deal of it: Oh, of course! I'd LOVE to help you when you ask so nicely! And when you do see patience or quiet waiting, positively reinforce like crazy: I love the way you're waiting so patiently. I appreciate that! What a great helper! Go ahead and lay it on thick. :) They don't appreciate subtlety!

When I try to shift the focus to quiet ignoring/tuning out the behaviors I dislike (except I will say, after the 1st whine "Oh, I'm sorry, I don't understand whine. I only understand regular talking.") and making a huge, positive deal over the ones I like --even just a small attempt or approximation of the right behavior-- I do start to see more of the good stuff.

Sorry for the novel! I have a 1 and 3 yr old and sometimes it seems like their needs take over the whole house! So I've been trying to find ways to create a peaceful atmosphere, and using my old Pre-K teaching techniques. Good luck!