Monday, June 1

Morning of the Fourth (Guest Blogger: AD)

Guest Blogger for this post: Articulate Dad:

Challenging. Truly challenging. This is the morning of our fourth day as a family on Parenting on Track. I've been less than perfect in my progress, but progress it has been. What impressed me most about Vicki's DVD presentation for the first week was that she made a great deal of sense. The program is not focused on the symptoms, but the root causes.

This morning, I was talking with RocketMom, about how at times we have felt at our wits' end: we've tried everything, what more can we do? He's whining again, we've asked him to stop, we've cajoled him, we've begged, we've screamed... we've tried to ignore it, we've modelled a polite voice, we've rewarded him when he's asked nicely... why isn't this working?

But therein lies the problem: we've focused on the symptom. It's not about the symptoms. It's not about the whining. It's about creating an environment and a relationship where whining has little place, where whining (or what have you) are not effective, and atrophy of their own accord. It's as if we've tried to stop an itch by scratching. It may go away... but it may take much longer and cause greater discomfort along the way.

I don't want discomfort. I want my beautiful, wonderful, charming, insightful, delightful, smiling, happy, joyful, amazing, incredible boys. I have sometimes said that parenting is the hardest task I've ever encountered, ever tried. I say it's harder than writing that doctoral dissertation. RocketMom says it's harder than rocket science (and she'd know). But why? Why?

In terms that Vicki Hoefle, Creator of Parenting On Track™, might use, the reason lies in our negotiating our place in the world. By adulthood we've encountered many new situations, new environments, beyond our family of origin. Those family relationships may still be stuck in the patterns of our childhood, but we've been able to negotiate new terms in school, at work, among friends.

But children! Ah.... or rather Aaaarrggghhh! When we bring a baby home, we are confronted with an unfamiliar territory where our shovels fail to break the soil, our rain fails to nourish the roots, the sun fails to penetrate the clouds. And we lose our footing.

So we begin again, finding our places in this alien world, negotiating our roles and our identities with only the vaguest sense of where to begin. Unfortunately, much of that starting place is defined by our odd notions of what is expected of parents, and we lose our way.

So, we begin again, again!

Last night, I headed to bed around 11:30. R was still in the family room playing on the computer. E was apparently asleep on a chair beside him. I didn't set the alarm. I crawled out of bed around 7:15. Normally we leave for R's school around 7:20. It's about a 5 minute drive. First bell rings at 7:28, letting children into the building, the doors are locked when classes begin ten minutes later. I threw on some clothes, headed downstairs, noted R was dressed in the dining room, assumedly eating cereal. I grabbed my keys and wallet from my desk.

7:20, R greets me gleefully, as I left my home office: Daddy, you know today is Monday. Quickly and flatly I retort, with keys in hand: Yes, I'll be waiting in the car. And I left, pulled out of the garage, and waited, listening to the news on NPR. I looked at the clock periodically, vowing to sit it out until 7:38 before I'd head back in, closing my eyes, breathing.

7:36, readying for a possible confrontation, rehearsing: maybe they'll be having that rained-out field day today, you might miss it... you know, honey, the law requires you to be in school for the rest of the year. I honestly don't know what the consequences are if you refuse to go to school: they might not let us homeschool you next year, or they might take you away from us and put you in a foster home. Maybe we could call someone and ask, or go to the school, and ask the principal what would happen.

I open my eyes, to note in my periphery, R heading to the car door, opening it, putting on his seatbelt. I ease off the hand-brake, back out of the drive, and head to his school. 7:39 we pass the now-locked side door, and head to the front, where latecomers can get in. He opens the door. Wha? I... I forgot my folder... [silence]. I forgot my folder... [silence]. He closes the door. I see he's in shorts with sandals, but has a jacket (it's a rainy day again... I hadn't even noticed until now), no backpack. He enters the building.

A good start to the week. We might just get through this, and find define a better world on the other side. Consequences. Responsibility. Love.

1 comment:

"Tae's Mom" said...

We have Tae enrolled for a Montessori Pre-school next summer and they are really big on action and consequences/Love and Logic.

Glad to hear it is working....fingers crossed.