Tuesday, February 8, 2011

He Got a Sad Face, I've Never Been More Proud!

It was inevitable.  At least one of my kids would be...me.  Well, me before I knew better.

I can't help it, I'm a perfectionist who expects the same from everyone around me.  That is, until I grew wise in my old age and realized I can't change everyone around me, I can only emulate examples to those around me, which I still stink at much of the time. So now I just refuse to ever make a mistake.  Ask my colleague Bill, I think it makes him happy when I actually fail at something. At least he tells everyone about it when it happens.

So everytime Jack flips out because he didn't do something exactly perfect, or makes any tiny error of any kind I shrink back into myself cringing, wondering how in only 4 1/2 years I have managed to scar my child with the curse I lived with each and everyday of expecting so much of myself.  Or at least expecting so much of myself that I worried it will affect how others thought of me.  Approval, it was a strong, strong need in me in my younger years.  After my early thirties it turned into someone else's problem.  My mid life crisis/awakening came earlier than most but later than I wish it had, much later. 

It's not that the child never gets in trouble or never throws an all out major fit that both his father and I want to go back to our DINK days and rethink the whole "maybe our careers aren't the only thing in life".  Trust me, in this household, Jack is King of the Fit.  It's just that his fits are more in the category of discipline for self control, not discipline for outright naughty behavior.  In my opinion it's harder to discipline a child who is flipping out because he didn't get his arms in his shirt exactly right when he's trying to do it to please you, vs. a kid who's flipping out because he's smacking the living daylights out of his brother.  Both require discipline, but oh the nuances.  Let's just say the words Self Control are used often on Sterling Creek Ranch.

When I picked up Jack today I was warned that #1 he didn't nap, and #2 that he was pretty "active" all day long.  Hmm, the napping thing, no great suprise or concern as he doesn't at home on the weekend, though it is rare he wouldn't at school.  Secretly, I was ecstatic because it means he'll be asleep before 9pm tonight.  However, #3 was that he received a Sad Face on his work today because...

It was his first Sad Face.  The first time I can remember that he has ever been called out by a teacher for not following directions.  Not that he hasn't done it, but that it was worthy enough to note to me at pick up.  And it was notable that when he brought me the paper from his cubby, he just handed it over and didn't show it to me, didn't want to call it out in any way and followed it up with several other creations making sure to point out how he is "doing better at his "K"'s in his name".  I didn't acknowledge anything otherwise, no calling out of the Sad Face, no asking about the other papers he brought me.  We just went on our merry way, though he was a bit more defiant in the departure than usual, he eventually came along and off we went, to get Duke and to the car on our merry way home.

It wasn't until middle of supper he asked the question I knew was coming.  "Can we play the George game?"  We recently began allowing 30 minutes of computer time with our friends over at PBS kids and Curious George and their games.  Great for lots of reasons, and it's a really special, BIG KID activity.  I knew this was my moment to make it or break it.  Tell a child who is already over concerned with not making mistakes, that there is a consequence for the Sad Face.  I knew it was important not to focus on the Sad Face, but focus on the behavior that caused the Sad Face. 

And so when he asked I explained that today, there would be no PBSKids, no George game.  That today because we didn't listen to our teachers and follow directions during activity time, we would have to wait until another day to play the George game.  Nothing more, nothing less.

As expected, the roof came crashing down, as if I had told him he would never again in his lifetime, play the George game.   I remained calm, no explanation, waiting to see where it would lead.  And it came around on it's own to the inevitable, "I didn't mean to have a Sad Face" or something similiar and finally it was my turn to show what I have learned from all the books, magazines, blogs, friends and especially family examples before me.  

"Jack, getting a Sad Face once in a while happens.  I don't expect there never to be a Sad Face.  But I expect you to follow directions and listen to your teachers and that is the reason that you will not be able to play the George game.  I love you and I know you can do better.  Tomorrow work hard to do better and if you do, you will be able to play the George game again."

I don't know if I explained it all perfectly or in the right words or too many words, but in my heart I knew I did the two things I wanted him to be sure to know.  That there are consequences for the Sad Faces, but that it's the actions that matter to me most not the Sad Faces he gets.

And in my heart, I'm jumping with joy for the Sad Face that finally gets me the chance to discipline my kid for doing something wrong instead of trying too hard to be right.   

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away...

...there lived children that ate all healthy meals and snacks and never a HFCS product crossed their lips.  Yep, that's far, far, far, far, far away from our life.  But like any mom with more to do than I can possibly accomplish in say 50 years yet before they wake up tomorrow, I try. 

When they were babies I breastfed them, because I could and it felt right.  I made it about 6 months with each and pumped like a banshee to allow them to have it mixed with formula as long as possible.  I even made all their baby food from scratch.  That's right, no jars of Gerber for me.  I did it because I felt that if they tasted the real thing, they might be more apt to continue to like all the various vegetables and be less prone to adversity to textures, plus the SAVINGS!  I also love to cook, so since I already feel guilty that I don't spend time enough time with my kids, at least I was spending that time doing something good FOR them. 

That said, Jack is terribly adverse to textures, while Duke will try just about anything (some cajoling required).  Jack eats only raw carrots, Duke only cooked.  Jack loves apples, Duke can't stand them but both will devour applesauce.  Put a bratwurst in front of Duke, watch your fingers because he just keeps eating.  Jack will ask for peanut butter sandwiches every day of the week, for Duke it's yogurt.

Honestly they are both pretty balanced eaters, except over the past year you would have thought a serving of vegetables was the equivalent of a hamburger placed in front of a vegan.  I had all but given up that the only green item they would touch was edamame, simply because they like to "pop" them out of the shell until I saw a tweet about a month ago from @thatkristen

No secret, I love me some bloggers, particularly of the Mommy persuasion that are also saavy writers.  There are several I follow both on Google Reader for their blog content as well as Twitter, because they are SO.DARN.FUNNY!  I even have a twitter list I've named "4 Sanity Sake" because they are what keeps me sane on many a day surrounded by all things work, hunting, fishing, basically...men.  I know none of these women personally, but we share, well, life, and that's just fine by me.

So, back to the tweet.  Somewhere in mid November I caught a flash of a tweet where she had miraculously convinced her preschooler son that Luke got his Jedi powers by eating his vegetables.  Shortly there after there was this on her blog, Motherhood Uncensored.  I've always thought she was one smart cookie but that put her at certifiably BRILLIANT.  I mean the woman gave birth to her 4th child at home, and not on purpose and then wrote about it 5 DAYS LATER.  Oh, and that 4th kid, ya, that's the 4th UNDER 6.  Seriously she is amazing and now this is starting to become an obsessive post, so back to the vegetables.

At the same time I saw the tweet we were mid supper, the kids that is, daddy was gone and it was a night they ate at the kitchen island while I nibbled on leftovers.  Again, nary a broccoli touched when I so very casually came out with, "You know guys, those powers Yoda has, with the finger fire and all, he gets that from green food."  Being that my kids are slightly obsessed with everything Star Wars and Jack believes that Yoda is IT, I figured I'd take a shot.

"REALLY"  wide eyed and so naive they are at this age.


The rest is history.  In the last month I have been ASKED to make peas for dinner.  And last Friday, LIMA BEANS, that's right every last one of them in the veggie mix, GONE.

And since that time, we've had Chewbacca food, Obi Wan food, Droid food, Darth Vader food.  You name it, we'll eat it.  As long as the guys on Star Wars do, it's good enough for them.  Even at school Jack has started back on his green beans, telling his teacher in no uncertain terms that it's Yoda food and that's YUMMY!

So, enjoy tonights image from dinner "Grandma's" Chicken Nuggets and...notice anything missing?  Yep, the peas, ate 'em first.  And the faces - oh, that's the powers that the Yoda food gives you, to SCARE Mommy.  I have to do a little ducking and weaving behind the island, but worth every vitamin these two are scarfing down these days!

Kristen, this one's for YOU!