Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Finding Truth In A Ruined Moment

Yes, indeed, my-now-less-than-compañero does know how to ruin a moment. We had a good moment going... the afterglow of a nice day together. Until.... And, the amazing and -- from my new sun-drenched, spring is here, taking applications and giving out my number perspective -- very funny thing is that I think he really doesn't understand how insensitive, disrespectful and rude he can be sometimes. Sorry for the cliche, but use it I must... he just doesn't get it.

But, hey, the sun is out, my phone is ringing and I really just don't care enough about the situation to school him on proper behavior. Indeed, I'm not interested in educating anyone -- and, there are certainly a few things this one needs to be educated about -- concerning fundamental relationship and intimacy matters. I prefer my man to be well-versed and skillful concerning such matters with no basic or remedial education necessary. If I have to delineate the more subtle aspects of respect, reciprocity, and things of that nature, than it is simply not worth my time. There are certain things in life that, if they do not come naturally, are simply not worth having at all. And, the truth of the ruined moment is that it's really just not that important. I'm not even upset, really, more just shaking my head and laughing at the absurdity of it all.

Sooo, I celebrated his stupid -- not at all malicious, just deeply ignorant (and I do know the difference) -- display of his complete lack of understanding of the more subtle aspects of respect and sensitivity by going out to dinner with friends. I hadn't planned on going, but after his little display of ignorance, I bounced out for a bit. Tonight was my monthly IWW meeting (which, due to cold weather and lack of a babysitter, I have not attended in a few months) and I had a wonderful time -- a good meal, nice wine, and intelligent conversation shared with the very cool men that make up my local IWW chapter (most of which I already know from my neighborhood and other actions and activities we regularly attend).

I took along my lovely, well-behaved 3-year-old and 5-year-old. This was the first time I brought them (and the second meeting I attended), as I was not yet confident that they could sit quietly for that long of a period without disrupting the proceedings of the meeting and it is not fair to demand something of children that they are not developmentally able to do yet. However, they were wonderful. I was so very proud of them. They behaved like perfect angels. They did not spill anything, they were quiet and said "Excuse me, please" and waited quietly until an appropriate break in the conversation for me to respond. They colored and wrote in the notebooks we brought. (I always make sure to bring a variety of quiet activities for them when we go places that they'll need to sit for a bit) Everyone got a kick out of how good they were, even the waiter. And, I'm thrilled that they -- through their excellent behavior -- get to grow up amongst thinkers and activists, get to watch, listen and learn about direct action planning and doing.

They are so good that I can, and do, take them almost anywhere -- picket lines, protests, peace vigils, political meetings, social action meetings... We have smooth shopping trips, none of that "I want this, I want that" crying, begging, screaming, tantrums... If they like something, they show it to me. They do not ask for it. When they show me something, sometimes it's just because it caught their eye and sometimes because it is something that they would like to have. If it is on my approved list and if we have the money, I may buy it. If we don't have the money I say so directly. If it is something that I want to get for them in the future, we plan the purchase. If it is something not on the approved list, I say so directly and give the age appropriate reason why. We have never -- not one time -- gone through any fit throwing because of a "no."

From the time my children have been old enough to understand, I've explained money. That, because I choose to stay at home with them, because they are more precious to me than anything money could ever buy, we have less money to spend on excess. Our money goes to food first, our rent, utilities, etc. And, then, after putting some away for an emergency, if we have some extra, we can use that on things we may want. My children understand that exactly and have never once given me a problem accepting a "no" in a store. For my children, getting to spend every day with Mommy, instead of in a day-care with strangers, is more important than the toy of the moment. They have already learned one of the most important things I hope to teach them -- people are more important than things.

They have plenty of toys... good toys that encourage their imagination -- doll houses, trucks, cars, construction equipment (for whatever reason, they just love backhoes and dump trucks), baby dolls, strollers, kitchens, tea sets, etc. and so on. They have easels, modeling clay, paints and art supplies galore (we have a couple of those discount dollar type stores around here, that stuff is so cheap and gives them hours and hours of pleasure). Because we have no television, they have remarkable attention spans and play so well. They make up games, do beautiful art work, the older one is starting to write stories and poetry. They are truly -- and almost every time we leave the house lately, the people in our neighborhood, at the stores we go to, etc., tell me the same in awed voices -- among the most well-behaved, happy, caring, sweet children I've ever seen.

And, I do not use corporal punishment, nor the threat of it. I'm just not cool with setting up a dynamic that normalizes the concept of it being acceptable for a person to use physical pain or aggression to resolve conflict within familial relationships. I do this with an eye on the future -- it seems to me that if I raise them to believe that there simply is no acceptable level of violence within a family, then they are that much more less likely to accept that in adulthood, that much less likely to become involved in a situation of domestic violence.

I prefer reason and both public and private positive re-enforcement. I am a big believer in respect. How can children learn respect if they are not treated with respect? I do not yell at them in public and rarely in private. If they do something wrong in public, I correct it on the spot, but quietly and as privately as possible. We discuss specifically the behavior, none of the "You are so...", name-calling, idle/ridiculous threats, or other useless and counterproductive methods that some parents use. If I can not obtain the desired behavior through a brief, age appropriate explanation of what I expect and why, my primary disciplinary tactic is time out. It's very portable and works almost anywhere. One minute per year of age, unless there is a particularly egregious offence such as hitting (pinching, pushing, etc.) during a toy dispute. That is automatic double time -- 2 minutes per year of age. Other things include living with the consequences. For example, if I have to pick up (insert toy or item here) after requesting it to be picked up, then I keep it for three days. On a shelf, in plain sight. No arguing, no yelling. The choice is theirs, they choose the path and accept what comes. End of discussion. I've only had to do this twice in the last 6 months.

And, that's enough happy mommy talk for tonight...

Until Next Time...

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