Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Week 9

It's a little late to be posting about last week, I know.  I have so many blog posts to write and I just haven't had as much time to write them over the past week or two.  Until about three weeks ago, I got up at 6:00, showered, and then had another hour in which to write blog posts, read, pray, and do other such things.  But in the past two or three weeks, Seth has been waking up between 5:45 and 6:15am, and my private time has dwindled.  With Matthew going to bed at night around 9:15/9:30pm and falling asleep at around 11:00, my evening window has shrunk significantly, too.  That being said, every day I think of new blog posts to write, and I have over thirty of them in draft form...I just need to get to them before they become irrelvant.

All of that being said, here's my post about last week - which was week 9 as a completed family.

Last week was most notable for one thing:  the relative absence of tantrums!  We enjoyed four consecutive days of considerable peace and harmony and fun together.  I almost couldn't believe it.  Now, to be clear, when I say that we were (relatively) free of tantrums, I'm not including the hundred or so tantrums that Lizzie threw over regular three/four-year-old stuff.  I'm also not including the grief cries of our oldest, who is really making some huge shifts but is still struggling.  What I'm talking about it the absence of the biggie tantrums of our beloved middle child which have so occupied the previous eight weeks.  I can't tell you what a difference in life that made.

Last Monday, I employed a parenting strategy that I actually don't feel very good about...but it produced some results (why is it that non-recommended parenting strategies can product results - at least in the short term?).  Towards the late afternoon of a difficult day with Seth, I wanted to give the kids a bath.  We don't do baths every day around here, but the kids really do love them and I, in turn, love to occasionally throw the kids into the bath during the day just for the fun of it.  Sadly, Seth was not in a great space to do much of anything, and so I told him (and here's a part of the parenting strategy that I don't feel very good about) that if he didn't stop screaming he would not be allowed to have a bath.

Now some parents might think that's an ok parenting strategy, but I don't.  I don't like to hold rewards or punishments over my kids' heads, and furthermore, I really don't like the idea of telling my kids that they can't express  the emotions that need to come out...and this holds true even more so for our baggage-carrying younger children.  Even Matthew said to me, when I employed this strategy with Seth, "Mom, you told me that we can always express our emotions and that it's all right to cry if we need to cry."  Hmm - well, he had me there, exactly.  That's why I don't like that I did what I did.

But in that moment, after the day we'd had, I was desperate...a bit at the end of my ability to know what to do, and in dire need of the screaming to stop.  It had been hours of shrieking, and I was shaking from the insides out.  I knew that Seth loves baths, and I hoped that my threat would stop the screaming.

It didn't even work.  He continued to scream.  Then, when he finally (an hour+ later) stopped, he asked for a bath; in the interest of being consistent (with my poor strategy), I said "no."  He screamed then, too.  When he was finally done, I told him (continuing the poor strategy) that if he managed to get through the next day without any big screams, he would have a bath the following morning.  I suck at this stuff sometimes.

The sad thing is that it worked.  And again, I say sad because I don't think the value of a particular parenting strategy can be measured by its apparent positive result in the moment...I think that the real results of good parenting come a long time later, when a particular strategy has had lots (and lots) of time to have real changing impact on the insides of a child.

Anyway, the next morning, Seth said that he would not be screaming that day (demonstrating with a loud shriek what he would not be doing).  And he didn't.  So the following morning, he had a bath...and he clearly and unreservedly loved it.  The no-screaming continued that day, and the next day and the next day, for a total of four days.  It's almost like he got into a groove of not screaming, rather than the opposite.  Since then I've been asking myself if the ends justify the means...

But those four days could be summed up by saying this:  It was a beautiful thing.

We didn't do anything fancy last week: just hung around; did some errands; got together with friends at wading pools and in our backyard; played outside with the bikes and water hoses; the usual stuff that fills our days and weeks right now.  But it was a good week.

The weekend was a little rougher again, and yesterday (Monday) was frankly horrid until mid afternoon...but that's this week and not last week, and this post is about Week 9, which was a really, really good week.  Here are a few of our little highlights:

Matthew with his completed lego tower.  All of the kids love their lego/duplo...and so do I!

Here's Seth on Matthew's longboard...coasting across the driveway.

Here's Seth (far left) with one of our good friends, and Lizzie (on the right) after rubbing gravel dust all over themselves at a nearby play structure.  They looked like mimes to me.  I don't know why they had such fun doing this, but fun they had!
Matthew (on the right) with his best buddy.


Lizzie and Seth.

I was finally able to start baking a little again last week, which was fun.  After Matthew had begged for a cinnamon bun breakfast for three consecutive days, I got up early one morning and made some of the quicker variety.  Matthew's response:  "They're pretty good, Mom, and I don't want to hurt your feelings, but I kinda like the little ones from Costco a bit better!"  Wow.  This feels like a challenge to me - I'm going to have to pull out all of the stops and make a batch of the best-ever cinnamon buns that I make only once or twice a year...but are worth every bit of the labour.  Then we'll hear what he has to say about Costco cinnamon buns.  Costco...Shmostco.

Mid week, we drove forty minutes out of the city with my mother (on the left in the pink) and had lunch with some of my great aunties, who have been praying for us and for our kids for a long time, and who hear some of my blog posts from my mother (who occasionally reads them to my great aunties over the phone!).  I didn't know how well lunch would go (at least one of the kids can be quite unpredictable at times!) but it went very well and even the waitress said that she hadn't seen such well behaved little kids in a very long time.   Hmmmm.

That was pretty much it for the week.  The trend appears to be upwards, blessedly, and I am so thankful.


  1. Those cinnamon buns look mighty good to me! They just need raisins (haha!)...


    I take your point about why that parenting strategy made you sad. But... I don't know. He obviously understood what you were doing and it seemed logical to him, it was short-term (not for a month or even a week!), it wasn't harmful, it was age-appropriate and it isn't something you do regularly. Oh, and it WORKED! I know that's not the be-all and end-all, but he was obviously and consciously using it as an opportunity to develop self-control and giving his little pre-frontal cortex some exercise. Win-win-win. I say good parenting, mama!

  3. Thanks Claudia - I still don't feel great about it, but you've helped me feel better!