Posted in family life, musings

parenting a preschooler

caterpillar_preschooler

When he is so upset about a broken cup that he can’t enjoy one of his favorite playgrounds…

When he asks “why?” in endless loops that don’t even make sense half the time and doesn’t even seem to listen to the answer…

When he wants to have long and challenging books read to him but gets distracted on every page by something different – and then cries if you stop reading…

When he wants help building his Duplos but gets frustrated if he isn’t doing it all by himself…

When he deliberately pushes the limits and disobeys in the “one finger across the line” sort of way…

When he is so big and sweetly thoughtful and fiercely independent…

When he is tired and whiny and just wants to snuggle…

When he is angry and unreasonable and tells me he’s going to break things and hit people…

When he laughs that crazy laugh that just about knocks him over…

When his mouth turns down in the frown that’s melted my heart since his infancy…

…then, it is up to me to remember that he is being three and a half years old, dealing with so much internal transition and growth, and adjusting to a new baby and my return to work, learning more about himself and the world every day. He is not an adult yet; he isn’t going to act like one, and it isn’t fair to expect it of him. What he needs is for me to love and accept him for who he is right now, and gently guide him as he grows into the fullness of who he will be.

Posted in musings

bike thefts and mindfulness

Remember how excited I was about biking in my {SQT} post on Friday? Well… it’s a good thing I’d written that post the night before, because when I went out to the garage that morning both my bike and my husband’s bike were gone. Beautiful brand-new bike (first new bike I’d bought since I was in junior high), stolen. I took the car instead that morning, and worked on cognitive-behavioral techniques about it all day (because sadness triggers a lot of unhelpful thought patterns for me), and prayed about the best way to move forward, and just generally felt sad and disappointed and hurt all day long. It wasn’t just a bike that was stolen: it was my quiet time with God, my exercise time, my outdoor alone time, my time of refreshment and empowerment, that was taken away. And I didn’t know if it would be financially wise to buy another bike when we apparently live in a high-risk area.

But what I did know was that I didn’t want my (very legitimate) sadness to prevent me from experiencing the happiness of all the good things that were just as much a part of my life as the bike theft. Driving home, I thought about how the kids were waiting for me, how they would be excited to see me, and want me to play with them, and fill the house with silly games and wild stories and sweet cuddles – and how my sadness could interfere with my ability to connect with and cherish them, or keep me from feeling the joy of their laughter and craziness. Was I going to let this unknown thief steal the happiness I have with my children? No I was not! It is ok to be sad, I told myself, but right now, in this moment, I am going to seize the joy and beauty and love that presents itself, and let the sadness wait until a time when I can listen to it and determine how to address the practical issues the theft created. The bike was stolen in the past; the commuting will take place in the future; but my children are with me now, offering up their little happinesses, desiring my love and happiness in return. And I can choose what I am going to open my heart up to in this now, this present moment. (Oho! Look at that! It’s my 2017 word of the year!)

One of the things I’ve learned from my therapist is that it’s extremely pointless to try to make a thought or emotion go away. The more one fights it, the bigger and stronger it gets. Choosing to open oneself up to a new thought or emotion, however (a more helpful alternative), allows the unhelpful thought or emotion to slip away, or at least shrink into the back reaches of the mind. So that’s what I tried to do with my sadness and disappointment, by fully living in the present moment so characterized by the happiness (and neediness 😛 ) of my children.

(And in the end, we found two cheap old bikes on Craigslist that will work for now and not be quite as appealing to thieves – or quite as much of a loss if they are stolen! I still miss my bike, but at least I don’t also have to miss biking itself.)