One time, I was talking about Elsie's crazy tantrums, and someone observed, "You must have prayed for patience." Indeed. What a wild ride.
I'm coming to a point where I have to put on my own big girl panties in dealing with the kids. They want they want they want. Lots of things. They scream and cry if they don't get them. (The older one is usually the leader, and I've taken to calling them Pete and re-Pete.) I completely understand why there are spoiled kids out there, because the tantrums stink, and life in the short-run would be so much easier with less screaming.
But, I'm starting to weigh the long-term effects. What are we teaching our children? That they can have anything/everything they want, any/every time that want it? That's hardly a life lesson.
Here are some specific thoughts on the subject I've had lately:
TV -- It's summertime, it's hot, and we're watching more TV than we do during the school year. I'm not proud of that fact, but it is what it is right now (though as I'm typing this, the kids have the couch cushions off and are building castles and trains and boats, taking trips to the beach and the circus, and whatever else their imaginations fancy--it's actually pretty refreshing and gives me hope that I'm not ruining their minds this summer...well, except that they're humming the tune to Elmo's World as they're dragging the cushions around into new formations). I know people who use the "on demand" function of their cable provider to show kids shows when they're wanted. I see some use for this function, but I know that it is overused to proactively eliminate tantrums. Elsie frequently is screaming at me that she wants to watch Dora. Well, Dora's not on. Deal with it. I've had opportunity to talk with her about a television schedule, about being patient, about not getting to watch what she wants to watch. And yes, I've had to weather the tantrums. BUT, they are becoming fewer and farther between.
FOOD -- We visited my family in Texas a week or so ago, and one night we had my mom's taco salad for dinner. The kids were at first resistant to eating (lettuce can be a deal breaker for them, haha), and my mother suggested that she had something else they could eat. Yeah, that would have made feeding them easier. But guess what? We are not short order cooks. So, we held the line and the kids did eventually eat what was put in front of them, even if they didn't eat a lot of it (more for me!). For my particular brood, I'm not concerned about eating habits because they are generally bottomless pits that will eat most anything. So, if they choose not to eat what is being served for dinner, there is not a menu change. I'm not saying that it's never happened before and won't happen again (I'm a human being, remember), BUT I am saying that I'm more mindful of not giving in to tantrums, riding it through--isn't it our responsibility to teach our children to respond in appropriate and productive ways to the experience of disappointment?
So, in this trying time with two children at a willful age, the challenge of parenting is one that will make my hair go gray at exponential rates, will make me scream and cry myself, but when we survive--because we will survive--it will make us stronger, and I may actually have more of that elusive patience. And will be blessed beyond belief.
Until then, cheers.