Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lessons From Toddlerville

****Disclaimer: Mature Language****

My boys are older now; my oldest is nineteen and my youngest is fourteen. I enjoy looking back and recalling when they were little and some of the stages they went through. Some were rough, others a lot of fun. Then there were times that taught me some very valuable lessons.

 I remember one about eleven years ago when Austin was about three and I was having a conversation via my cell phone. I was having a difficult time holding my tongue and my temper. When the conversation was over, I chucked my cell phone across the kitchen and it landed on the floor. “Son of a bitch,” I cussed as it broke into pieces.

 “Mama, you mad?”

I spun around and saw Austin standing in the doorway staring at me. Shit. Shit. Shit. I screeched in my head. What the hell was I going to tell my three year old? Don’t throw stuff when you’re mad? I just did. And I absolutely HATED when my bio-mother told me do as I say not as I do. I REFUSED to be a hypocrite. “Yes, I’m mad.”

“Who made you mad?” His ever inquisitive mind never rested and I was determined not to squelch it.

“Someone from work.”

“Someone from you wook?”

“Yes. But Mommy’s okay. Go back and play.” I told him as I bent down and picked up my broken cell phone. I felt his eyes boring into my back, hoping he wouldn’t ask any questions about my phone. When he didn’t, I thought, Phew, that was close.

 Boy was I ever wrong.

About a week later I heard Austin talking to himself in his room (like mother, like son). After listening for a few seconds, I realized he was actually ticked, then I heard a THUD. I went to his room and found him sitting on his bed, his arms and legs crossed and a scowl on his face…his Game Boy was lying on the floor. “What’s wrong?” I asked, even though I already knew the answer.

 “I wost the game.”

“Aw, that’s okay. You can try again.” I patted his blonde head for encouragement.

“My mad.”

“I can see that. How did your Game Boy get on the floor?” Like I mentioned, I already knew the answer but I never dreamed he’d actually fess up!

“My threw it.”

 “You WHAT?”

 “My got mad and threw it.” He huffed and his crossed arms went up and then back down again, as if to say, so there.

I bent down to look into his eyes as I spoke to him. “Austin, you can’t throw things because you’re mad.”

 “You got mad and threw you cell phone.” His blue eyes bore into mine, as if challenging me to tell him it wasn’t true.

Oh fuckity fuck fuck. My mind screamed. He was right, of course. I had been mad and threw my phone. He was mad and threw his Game Boy. Now what?

I sat on his bed and explained that yes, I had been mad when I threw my cell phone but it wasn’t a wise choice because I had to buy a new one. Thankfully his Game Boy wasn’t broken because if it was, he didn’t have the money to buy a new one. I also explained that when we’re angry we need to be very careful of how we express it because it can cost us in a lot of ways and in my case it cost me money. I wasn’t sure if his little three year old brain grasped what I had told him but I knew that I couldn’t tell him that I was right and he was wrong. He needed to understand that every action has a reaction and I would reiterate this as he got older and hopefully the lesson would imbed itself into his mind.

 Austin wasn’t the only one that learned something that day. I discovered a couple things too. I learned that I would have to be ever so vigilant of my actions. I had always heard that children were like apes and mimicked everything, but that was the first time I had actually SEEN it with my own eyes! If my child was going to imitate me, then I wanted him to mimic my nice actions, not the impromptu, out of control ones! I needed to practice patience and get hold of my temper.

 It took me sometime but I have control and have found that the saying don’t sweat the small stuff and most of it is small stuff is very true. Its so liberating! I rarely lose my temper anymore whereas before I had a very short fuse. Thats liberating as well.

It also helps to realize that parenting and childhood both can be hard. But they do have their rewards. We just need to keep our eyes and ears open and be receptive to the fact that we aren’t perfect and even toddlers can teach us a thing or two about ourselves. Remember...out of the mouth of babes…yeah…that can be a very good thing.


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