Thursday, March 3, 2011

Parenting 101

My problem (among many) is not what I have to write about once I open a blank page; it's usually where to begin.  For instance, right now it's about the cat who's laying across my arms, literally.  Not too sure how it's comfortable for him, but he thinks it's working for us.  This is Tuesday, by the way. 

I will have to say, that among his many positions he has found to be obnoxious and inconvenient to me while I'm on the computer, this one is among the less-intrusive.  I, at least, can still type.  The ones that are on the more intrusive side are where he sits on my hands and stares me in the face, blocking the screen.  Which is the position he assumed when I bothered him by moving one of my hands to take the first picture of him. 

I mean, really. 

I seriously don't know how I lived without this iPhone before now.  It has become such an integral part of my life already, I even have my grocery list on it which conveniently syncs to James' phone so the next time he's at Publix and calls to ask me, "What else did we need here?", there will be no more of, "I don't know" and then once he gets home, the slamming of the hand to my forehead and exclaiming, "I knew I was forgetting something!"  He can see it all right on his phone.

I seriously have been out of facial wash for almost 2 months, but I keep adding water to the bottle and diluting it down because I never seem to make it to the store, and when I do, I obviously forget it.  Well, no more.  Shopping has just gotten high-tech around here.  And it even has a barcode scanner, so right before I'm about to throw the empty bottle of ketchup away, I quickly grab my phone, scan the barcode, and bam!  Ketchup is now on my grocery list.  In the proper variety and size, too.  Then I tell it which store I want to purchase it from, so it organizes my items by what store I'm in. 

I even used my phone to pay for my coffee this morning at Starbucks.  I have the Starbucks mobile app and I hand the phone to the barista, she scans the code on the screen and it deducts the correct amount from my Starbucks card.  So cool.  Now only if I can get it to clean my house and wash the dishes for me, we'll be set.  Step it up, Steve Jobs. 

So obviously, I went to Starbucks this morning, Magdalene went with me, and then right next door to McDonald's to buy JJ an ice cream cone and nuggets, realized suddenly afterward that I was in Plant City attempting to do errands while the Strawberry Festival was happening, ran to the Hay Depot for more hay and then to Tractor Supply, or "tract-ture soup-pie" as JJ calls it, for fly-spray.  When he's a good boy he gets to pick out one of the little toy trucks, tractors or other assorted diggers and scoopers or whatever the heck they are.  He knows them all by name, though, so don't be fooled.  I get corrected all the time when I happen to call one by the wrong term.  The earth does stop until I call it by its correct name, in case you wondered.  Yes, I'm learning from my three-year old about machinery that I never would have cared about otherwise.  I think today he got a "bulldozer", but that's among one of the easier ones.  When it comes to the turbo-diesels I get a little flustered. 

They had chicks and bunnies there, being that time of year already, and I've never been a rabbit lover or anything, (in fact, I'm pretty much NOT a rabbit lover because every time I picked up one as a kid, I got scratched, horribly) but they had this pure white bunny there today, so small, with pink eyes, and it was so adorable and so sweet I could not stop holding it.  I texted James a picture of her and asked him if he would be upset if I just happened to bring it home, but I got no response.  Plus, I wasn't exactly prepared to shoulder the cost of setting up stage for a whole, new animal just yet.  JJ held her too and said he liked her, but I think that's about where his interest in bunnies both began and ended. 

Bunny Love
We stopped through Parkesdale on my way back for produce, and then when we got back to the barn we did some chores and got some horses ready to ride.  I figured I should attempt to get back on a horse sooner or later, although my back has been bugging me and still is quite sore.  I can do most everything, I just have to be careful not to move my back in certain positions, and certainly, I cannot touch back there or put any real pressure on the spot. 

So I rode Sammy, we had a good ride, Eryn rode Raz, and only Magdalene got bucked off today, so all was well.  I told her she should really quit falling off so much and get herself some good horses, at which point she reminded me that the ones she comes off of all the time were mine, anyways. 

I also longed Bird today, and he has been doing so, so well.  I am truly enjoying the process of seeing him soften and develop a sense of trust, which promotes relaxation in him, and then the pure artistry of his body and movement truly radiate through. 

My handsome, handsome boy. 
 We have been taking a class on Monday nights, I'll explain more about this class at another time, but on one of the topics this past week, got me thinking about my way of parenting, and specifically, how many times in a day do I use "coercives" to change JJ's behavior.  Such as, "If you don't stop, you will sit in time-out" or, "Do you want a spank?  Then go pick up your toys like I asked."

So one of the challenges this week is to catch myself when I'm doing that.  And not that it all is bad or anything, just to see how much I do it.  And I find that I do it a lot.  Some of the problem lies with how I do it.  For instance, the other day he wanted to take his remote-controlled trucks out to the barn.  Normally, I would have said yes with reluctance and then gotten upset at him when he got them wet or dirty, and then I would have taken them away from him, which then would have made him upset, and then I would have had to punish him further by having to address his tantrum.  Some days I truly wonder why I feel like all I do is use punishments to modify behavior, and I feel it doesn't do much good. 

So as part of what I learned in this class, I tried something different.  I told JJ, "Yes, you may take one truck out to the barn.  You pick, red or blue?  (Red)  So, when you take Red Truck out to the barn, you need to keep it clean.  Do not get it dirty.  No dirty?  (No dirty!)  If you can do that, I will let you take Red Truck and Blue Truck out to the barn again.  But if you get Red Truck dirty, I will take it away and you will have to earn it back.  Agree/understand?" 

So I tried to set up the rules ahead of time, so that at least I had attempted to clearly communicate.  I repeated an instruction with simple words to make sure he understood, and instead of saying I would punish him with whatever form, I said he would have to earn it back, which would focus on and reward good behavior instead just punishing negative behavior.  And he did a good job, he did not get it dirty.  But even if he had, it would have been as simple as taking the truck away, reminding him why he was getting it taken away, and when he would be tempted to throw a fit, he would have to decide ultimately to behave in order to get it back. 

I have tried this in various ways with various things and so far I have gotten good results from it.  It forces me to take initiative of explaining a rule to him that is simple, that he can understand, and that he can actually abide by at this age and maturity level.  Which is helping me to be proactive instead of reactive.  And although right now it highly focuses on behavior modification, I think it ultimately is teaching him to take responsibility for his actions or lack of actions, which is lifestyle training. 

I have also been challenged to praise him for as many things as I can find in a day that he is doing right or well.  It's soooo cute to see his face light up when I tell him, "Hey man, good job for putting your bike away before you get out another toy.  You obeyed mama right away, I like that.  You're the man!"  It seems like I can find more and more things to tell him he's doing a good job on, too. 

There is nothing so sweet on this earth as that moment when he comes up out of the blue to get a big hug, and says, "I wike you!" 

My Sunshine


  1. Little boys are so very precious and loving deep down in their boyish little bodies. I remember Brian coming up to me one particularly bad day for me, I was sitting on the sofa, and he goes, "Mommy, it looks like you need a hug." He gave me a great big one, said I love you, then off he went to go play some boyish thing outdoors. Ha. It was so very precious.
    JJ is like that. Hold on to those moments. That is what will get you through when they get oblivious to you...ha.

  2. PS--I told Dad I have to get a phone like yours too! AWESOME!