I had an interesting day.
It started with me not wanting to even get out of bed. Matt had to be back at work, Iris had to be off to school and Eloise was going to be home with me. I was still sick, though definitely on the mend, but was operating at about 60%.
Everything started really going down hill when I brought Eloise to circus school. She decided she didn't want to join the class. I insisted she did. She hung tight. So did I. Fighting ensued and it was ugly, and it lasted pretty much the whole rest of the day until dinner time.
Tonight, likely not coincidentally, was the first night of the parenting seminar I am taking called "Sanity Circus". One of my Parenting Resolutions was to attend these classes and put the things I learned in to practice. Tonight's class already expanded my mind in a million ways.
There were roughly 25-30 people there, all parents/teachers from my girls' school. We started by talking about some of our parenting challenges and, surprise surprise, alot of us shared the same ones. After talking about the challenges we then focused on what our goals were for our children-- to be happy, have self-esteem, etc etc.
Our first role-playing of the night involved us all pairing off to act out being a parent with a four year old who was being dragged through the mall for three hours. After the role-play was over we were asked what feelings we had as the parent AND as the child. We spent alot of time realizing (duh) that little people have feelings and needs and thoughts, too, and that we need to consider them when plowing through life on our own agenda. That our kids aren't simply annoyances to be managed, but rather, to be considered as independent persons. Of course, we know that, intellectually, but it often isn't how we handle them when we have our own carefully mapped out agendas.
After the first role-play we did another one, modelled after an example the instructor provided. What if we gave our child a choice on our way through a shopping trip at the mall. Have them decide, do we take the stairs of the escalator? Should we go to the shoe store or the dress store first? It's one way to involve our child in our plans. Give them some power and control.
After the break the instructor asked for someone to volunteer to share a recent parenting challenge that we could work on as a group. My hand shot up so fast I didn't even think about it: I was going to share what happened at circus school today. So I went to sit by the instructor and gave a brief explanation of what happened. Then another member of the group was selected to play me and I played Eloise and she and I acted out what happened at the class. So here I am, standing int he middle of a group of parents acting like my three year old while someone else acts out one of my less-than-stellar parenting moments. People, if you know me at all, you would know I would normally rather cut off my own leg than ever do something like this, but I was desperate. I needed help. So after the re-enactment, we sit back down and the group starts brainstorming what other ways could I have dealt with the situation.
Every suggestion was perfect. Most of them centered around the idea of giving Eloise the choice of what we should do, not forcing her to join in and then forcing her to leave when she wouldn't. About giving her space and time to talk to me about what was going on, if she might have been scared or something. Asking if she wanted me to come with her to do it or just sit on the sidelines with her and be okay with that.
You know, it's sort of funny that when people were saying this it was so obvious, but in the moment all I saw was anger. I was mad at her for wasting my time and my money and OMFG WHAT IS WRONG WITH HER?!?! It was really quite ridiculous looking back. But I had no tools at the time. This list we made, I'm keeping it in my purse.
We also discussed in the class about how children mirror their parents. That they do what we DO not what we SAY. They learn by modelling. There is even scientific research that backs up why this happens. This is something you always hear, but she did a little demonstration with us that really drove the point home and we were all like "ahhhhh, yes". Along the same lines we talked about how to keep from "flipping our lid" (freaking out). Or wait. Not as much how to keep from doing it (yet) but more about why it's so important not to. About how our children learn how to keep their cool by watching US keep our cool. Our instructor gave us a cool little hand demonstration that symbolizes the brain and "flipping our lid", something I'm sure I'll remember for a loooong time.
Here's how your hand represents your brain. The knuckles, when folded down like this, represent your frontal lobe, where the reasoning and problem solving in your brain happens.
When you "flip your lid" your hand looks like this representing your brain. See what happens to the part of your brain that is involved in reasoning and problem solving? Exactly. *Poof* Gone.
So this is a long and somewhat rambling post, but I really wanted to get it out, as much to share it as to keep it where I can refer to it, because I'm sure I will.